Backside Wear Is Not Dependent on the Acetabular Socket Design in Crosslinked Polyethylene Liners Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Although it is understood that backside damage occurs in polyethylene acetabular liners, the effect of highly crosslinked polyethylene, which has completely replaced conventional polyethylene, has yet to be examined. QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: The purpose of this study was to answer the following questions: (1) With conventional polyethylene (CPE), did the acetabular design make a difference in backside wear? (2) Is there a difference in backside damage between CPE and crosslinked polyethylene (XLPE) liners? (3) With XLPE, is the difference in backside wear between designs still present? (4) Is there any difference in backside damage in various zones on backside of individual liners? METHODS: This single-institution retrieval analysis involved visual damage scoring on the backside of 233 polyethylene liners implanted between 2002 and 2011. The liners were retrieved from either polished/dovetail cups (PD) or roughened/wire cups (RW) made by two different manufacturers. The inserts were divided into four groups: PD-CPE (n = 105), PD-XLPE (n = 16), RW-CPE (n = 99), and RW-XLPE (n = 13). Aseptic loosening and polyethylene wear were the predominant reasons for revision of CPE liners, whereas instability and infection were the common reasons for revision of XLPE liners. The time in situ (TIS) was shorter for the XLPE liners as compared with the CPE liners (PD-CPE: 8.5 years [SD 4.4]; RD-CPE: 9.5 [SD 4.8]; PD-CPE: 3.8 [SD 3.7]; RD-XLPE: 4.0 [SD 4.3]). The backside of each liner was divided into five zones and graded initially from a scale of 0 to 3 for seven different damage modes by one observer. There was substantial interobserver (kappa 0.769) and intraobserver (0.736) reliability on repeat scoring. To compare the effects of crosslinking, a subset of the conventional polyethylene liners was matched to the crosslinked liners based on TIS, resulting in 16 per group for the two PD types and 13 per group for the two RW types. RESULTS: Total damage scores in the RW-CPE (19 ± 7) group were greater (p < 0.001) than the PD-CPE group (8 ± 4). Damage was reduced with XLPE (p = 0.02) only for the RW-XLPE (9 ± 9) versus RW-CPE-type sockets (4 ± 4). There was no difference (p = 0.16) between the RW-XLPE group and the PD-XLPE group. Damage scores in the peripheral zone of the locking mechanisms were higher for RW-CPE (4 ± 3) compared with PD-CPE (1.4 ± 1.0, p < 0.001) and RW-XLPE (1.3 ± 1.3, p = 0.02). Damage was greater (p < 0.001) within the superior zones (7 ± 4) compared with the inferior zones (3.0 ± 2.8) of all liners. CONCLUSIONS: The current study shows greater backside damage for CPE in the roughened, wire lock cups. XLPE was shown to be more resistant to backside damage for both socket designs. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Although the polished/dovetail cups seem to cause less backside damage in the CPE liners than roughened/wire cups, the use of XLPE liners has been shown to protect the liner from backside damage in either cup design. If an acetabular shell has a functional locking mechanism, surgeons should not worry about cup design when undertaking isolated liner revision using XLPE liners.


  • Bali, Kamal
  • McCalden, Richard W
  • Naudie, Douglas DR
  • MacDonald, Steven J
  • Teeter, Matthew G

publication date

  • February 2016

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