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Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 12, pp 1333–1340 | Cite as

Accelerated ageing experiments with crosslinked and conventional ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) stabilised with α-tocopherol for total joint arthroplasty

  • C. Wolf
  • C. Macho
  • K. LedererEmail author
Article

Abstract

Samples of untreated ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE), UHMW-PE sterilized with γ-rays in nitrogen atmosphere (conventional UHMW-PE, widely used for articulating surfaces in endoprostheses) and UHMW-PE, which has been crosslinked by electron beam irradiation and annealed subsequently, were stabilized with α-tocopherol and aged in air at 120C as well as in 10% aqueous hydrogenperoxide with 0.04 mg/ml FeCl3 as catalyst at 50C. The oxidative degradation was monitored with the help of infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), solubility measurements and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and were compared to unstabilized samples. When aged in air at 120C, the crosslinked UHMW-PE showed a slightly slower increase of the carbonyl (CO)-number (according to DIN 53383) in FTIR than conventional UHMW-PE. A stabilisation with 0.4% w/w α-tocopherol resulted in an increase of lifetime by a factor of approx. 40 for all samples. Ageing in 10% aqueous H2O2 at 50C yielded similar results for all three unstabilised samples. The addition of the natural antioxidant α-tocopherol led to a prolongation of lifetime by a factor of approx. 2.5. A linear loss of α-tocopherol was detected during ageing. An increase of crystallinity as well as lamella thickness during ageing was observed with the help of DSC. The two-phase structure of crosslinked UHMW-PE with two melting endotherms at 114C and 137C was replaced very quickly by a single melting point at 130C. This effect was delayed with the stabilized samples. In the solubility and SEC measurements, a severe molecular degradation and drop of molar mass of all materials could be observed after ageing in H2O2, leading to a complete destruction and, in case of crosslinked UHMW-PE, to a serious damage of the molecular network, respectively.

Keywords

Differential Scanning Calorimetry Size Exclusion Chromatography Size Exclusion Chromatography Oxidative Degradation Electron Beam Irradiation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry of Polymeric MaterialsUniversity of LeobenLeobenAustria
  2. 2.Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH (PCCL)LeobenAustria

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