Ceramic-on-polyethylene bearing surfaces in total hip arthroplasty

J. A. Urban, K. L. Garvin, C. K. Boese, L. Bryson, D. R. Pedersen, J. J. Callaghan, R. K. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Background: Polyethylene wear debris, and the resulting inflammatory response leading to osteolysis and loosening, is the primary mode of failure limiting the longevity of total hip replacements. Alternative bearing surfaces, including ceramic-on-polyethylene, have been investigated in an effort to decrease the amount of polyethylene wear debris. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the seventeen to twenty-one-year results of the use of ceramic-on-polyethylene total hip prostheses. Methods: Sixty-four total hip prostheses were implanted with cement, by one surgeon, in fifty-six patients from 1978 to 1981. The average age at the index arthroplasty was sixty-nine years (range, fifty-one to eighty-four years). The components consisted of a cemented Charnley-Müller stem with a 32-mm modular alumina femoral head and a cemented all-polyethylene acetabular component. All patients who retained the index prosthesis were assessed clinically with use of Harris hip scores and were evaluated radiographically at the time of the latest follow-up. Results: At the time of this latest follow-up, of the original sixty-four implants, eighteen (28%) were still in place and five (8%) had been revised. The remaining forty-one implants were in patients who had died and were functioning well until the patient's death. No patient was lost to follow-up. Of the eighteen hips with an intact prosthesis in the surviving patients, seven had an excellent clinical result; nine, a good result; and two, a fair result. One asymptomatic hip had definite radiographic evidence of femoral loosening. No hip had definite signs of acetabular loosening or evidence of osteolysis. Survivorship analysis revealed that the probability of survival of the prostheses without revision was 95% at five years, 95% at ten years, 89% at fifteen years, and 79% at twenty years. The mean linear and volumetric polyethylene wear rates were 0.034 mm/yr and 28 mm3/yr, respectively. There were no fractures of the ceramic heads. Conclusions: Outstanding long-term clinical and radiographic results were attained despite the use of what are now considered substandard techniques (an inferior stem design, a 32-mm head, and first-generation cementing techniques). The wear rates in this study are lower than previously reported metal-on-polyethylene wear rates and are consistent with the lowest reported in vivo ceramic-on-polyethylene wear rates. These findings support the consideration of ceramic-on-polyethylene bearing surfaces in total hip arthroplasty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1688-1694+Adv80
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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