Particle analysis for the determination of UHMWPE wear


Three types of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) acetabular liners were tested against cobalt-chrome (CoCr) femoral heads on a hip simulator to approx-imately 20 million cycles. The materials included (1) conventional, nonirradiated liners (C-PE); (2) 5 Mrad γ-irradiated, remelted, and artificially aged liners (5-XPE); and (3) 10 Mrad γ-irradiated, remelted, and artificially aged liners (10-XPE). Wear was quantified by gravimetric analysis and wear particle characterization. Particle number and morphology were quantified by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and compared between groups. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to measure particle height in an effort to improve the total wear volume estimation. The wear debris, as characterized by SEM, was predominantly submicron and round, with occasional fibrils documented in the C-PE material. AFM analysis showed that particle height was approximately one-third of the particle equivalent circular diameter for all three materials. This correlation was used to improve the estimation of volumetric wear rate through SEM particle analysis. This technique is particularly useful for high-dose crosslinked UHMWPE, such as 10-XPE, which show weight gain due to fluid absorption during wear testing. This study has shown that particle analysis provides additional particle morphology and quantity information that cannot be obtained through gravimetric analysis. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials