Polyethylene wear debris has been identified as a cause of osteolysis, granuloma formation, and loosening in total hip arthroplasty. This study was designed to evaluate differences in polyethylene wear rates between acetabular cups machined from extruded bar stock and those direct compression molded. Two hundred thirty-six hip prostheses underwent radiographic evaluation using the technique of Livermore et al. Seventy-four were all-polyethylene cups machined from extruded bar stock, and 162 were all-polyethylene cups direct compression molded. Both groups were similar in that the acetabular and femoral components were all cemented, the acetabular components were all polyethylene, nonmetal backed, and bearing surfaces of both groups were polished, cobalt chrome. The femoral components were TRIAD in the machined group and TR28 in the molded group. Patient matching was performed, assigning 54 patients in each group, whose average age was 66 years old, average followup 6.7 years, and average weight 161 pounds. Rates of polyethylene wear then were compared. Results showed a linear wear rate of 0.05 mm per year for compression-molded polyethylene and 0.11 mm per year for machined polyethylene. Results of this study raise questions regarding the types of polyethylene fabrication and its ultimate molecular weight, and wear resistance.
*From The Orthopaedic Clinic, Baton Rouge, LA.
**Center for Hip and Knee Surgery, Mooresville, IN.
†Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY.
Reprint requests to Merrill A. Ritter, MD, Center for Hip and Knee Surgery, 1199 Hadley Rd, Mooresville, IN 46158.