Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) wear debris has been shown to be a major cause of long term failure of total joint replacements. Recently, crosslinking has been extensively introduced to reduce the wear of UHMWPE. In this study the wear of non-crosslinked and crosslinked UHMWPE were compared under a range of conditions.
The materials examined were UHMWPE GUR 1050, non-crosslinked, moderately crosslinked—5MRad, and highly crosslinked—10MRad. The wear was examined on a multidirectional pin on plate rig. The effect of counterface roughness on wear under different kinematics was examined.
The results from the different counterface conditions showed that highly crosslinked UHMWPE had significantly lower wear against both smooth and scratched counterfaces. However the reduction in wear for crosslinked polyethylene was less for scratched counterfaces. The second part of the study showed that all the UHMWPE's produced lower wear rates under lower multidirectionality because of reduced cross shear frictional forces and work. These findings are relevant to the consideration of the use of crosslinked polyethylene in the knee, where the kinematics have lower levels of cross shear and in the hip and knee against roughened metallic counterfaces.