Particulate wear debris from joint replacements has been implicated in the etiology of periprosthetic bone resorption. However, the effect of high-density-polyethylene or cobalt-chromium-alloy particles on osteoclastic bone resorption in vivo has not been studied previously, to our knowledge. Therefore, we examined the effect of these particles on tissue ingrowth, net bone formation (per cent trabecular bone), and osteoclastic bone resorption (osteoclasts per unit of bone surface) with use of a bone-harvest chamber that had a transverse one-millimeter channel for tissue ingrowth. After an initial six-week period for incorporation of the chamber into the proximal part of the tibia of rabbits, the contents of the channel were harvested repeatedly at three-week intervals. The carrier solution, 1 per cent sodium hyaluronate, was implanted first. In subsequent implantations, the hyaluronate was mixed with high-density-polyethylene or cobalt-chromium particles at concentrations of 10(8) particles per milliliter. The tissue harvested from the chambers that contained no particles was composed of longitudinally oriented trabecular bone in a fibrovascular stroma. Particulate high-density polyethylene evoked a moderate foreign-body reaction and a chronic inflammatory response and decreased net bone formation. When cobalt-chromium particles had been implanted, the tissue exhibited a more florid foreign-body reaction and a chronic inflammatory response, often in a nodular arrangement, in a background of dense connective tissue. Bone was sparse, and areas of cell necrosis and hyaline degeneration were noted. Histomorphometric analyses were carried out to determine the amount of net bone formation and osteoclastic bone resorption in the presence or absence of high-density-polyethylene or cobalt-chromium particles. The amount of bone was greatest in the control specimens, moderately decreased in the presence of high-density-polyethylene particles, and greatly decreased in the presence of cobalt-chromium particles. The number of osteoclasts in Howship lacunae per unit of trabecular bone surface was increased in the presence of high-density polyethylene, indicating that these particles stimulate osteoclastic bone resorption.
Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305-5341, USA.