Low Wear Rates Seen in THAs With Highly Crosslinked Polyethylene at 9 to 14 Years in Patients Younger Than Age 50 Years

Kevin L. Garvin, Tyler C. White, Anand Dusad, Curtis W. Hartman, John Martell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Patients 50 years or younger are at high risk for wear-related complications of their total hip arthroplasty (THA) because of their generally higher levels of activity. Highly crosslinked polyethylene (HXLPE) is believed to be more durable for this population than conventional polyethylene because of its improved wear; however, limited information is available on the wear of HXLPE in this population, particularly the wear of HXLPE when it articulates with alternative bearings like Oxinium (Smith & Nephew, Memphis, TN, USA). Questions/purposes: The purpose of this study was to evaluate two questions relative to this population of patients undergoing THA. First, what was the linear and volumetric wear rate of HXLPE in patients 50 years or younger at a minimum followup of 9 years and was osteolysis observed in any of these hips? Given the potential for damage to the Oxinium femoral head surface, was the wear of HXLPE in the patients with this material similar to the other bearings or was there accelerated or runaway wear that was visible in any of the patients? Methods: From November 1999 to April 2005, 105 THAs were performed in 95 patients 50 years of age or younger (mean, 42 years; range, 20–50 years). The mean body mass index was 30 kg/m 2 (range, 17–51 kg/m 2 ).The mean followup was 12 years (range, 9–14 years). Two patients died, five patients (one bilateral) were lost to followup, and one hip was revised elsewhere for pain. The patients’ information was not included in the study, which left 87 patients with 96 hips for analysis. Highly crosslinked polyethylene was the acetabular bearing for all of the hips. We analyzed the linear and volumetric wear of all of the hips using the Martell method. Eighty hips had the same diameter head (28 mm) allowing us to more accurately compare the different bearing materials. The type of femoral head used was related to our sequential use of materials beginning with cobalt chrome (14), ceramic (23) followed by Oxinium (43) in the hips with 28-mm heads. Although cobalt-chrome was used early in this study, our previous experience with ceramic on polyethylene encouraged us to use it as an alternative bearing. The Oxinium was used consecutively for the remaining hips. Results: The mean wear of the HXLPE after 1 year of bedding-in (true linear wear)was 0.022 mm/year (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.015–0.030 mm/year). The mean volumetric wear of HXLPE after 1 year of bedding-in (true volumetric wear) was 9 mm 3 /year (95% CI, 4–14 mm 3 /year). None of the hip radiographs had evidence of loosening or osteolysis. Wear was not associated with femoral head material (p = 0.58 for linear wear/year versus head material and p = 0.52 for volumetric wear/year versus head material). Conclusions: In our study of patients 50 years of age or younger undergoing THA, the linear and volumetric wear rates of HXLPE were very low regardless of the bearing surface material. The laboratory concerns of Oxinium surface damage are serious but at this time we have not seen high wear of the HXLPE or osteolysis in this population. Level of Evidence: Level III, therapeutic study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3829-3835
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 30 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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