Highly Cross-Linked Polyethylenes

  • Robert M. StreicherEmail author


Osteolysis after total joint replacement using ultra-high molecular weight Polyethylene bearing components has been shown to be a major factor for the long-term failure of such components. Highly cross-linked polyethylene has already been introduced in the late 1970s and demonstrated to have superior wear resistance compared to non-irradiated and irradiation sterilized polyethylene used since 1962. In 1986 irradiation sterilization in inert gas was introduced and starting from 1998 modern highly cross-linked polyethylenes have been used as bearing surfaces for hip joint implants, followed by their usage for tibial inserts for total knee replacement. Despite a dramatic reduction in the wear rates and the positive clinical results with this second generation highly cross-linked polyethylenes, it was necessary to compromise between oxidation resistance and preservation of toughness, which has been addressed by various manufacturers in different ways. The newest third-generation of highly cross-linked polyethylene has been introduced in 2005/2007 and addresses the deficiencies of the previous generation by usage of enhanced technologies to minimize the compromise made with second-generation materials.


Wear Rate Total Knee Replacement Total Joint Replacement Tibial Insert Irradiation Sterilization 
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Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RüschlikonSwitzerland

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