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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2008;16 Suppl 1:S14-9.

How are wear-related problems diagnosed and what forms of surveillance are necessary?

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, The Harris Orthopaedic Biomechanics and Biomaterials Laboratory, Adult Reconstructive Unit, Department of Orthopedics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Prospective, randomized clinical wear studies have shown significant wear reduction when highly cross-linked, e-beamed, melted polyethylene was compared with conventional polyethylene sterilized by gamma irradiation in air. More complete assessment of wear-induced osteolysis in the general total hip arthroplasty patient population must rely on registries with follow-up of large populations of patients through radiographic evaluation of wear-related factors, such as suboptimal placement of the implant components, osteolytic defects, and aseptic loosening. Follow-up radiographs should be obtained in the early postoperative period and at 1, 5, and 10 years postoperatively, and then every 1 to 5 years, thereafter depending on radiographic findings of osteolysis and its progression. When pathologic findings are present, further examinations, such as oblique Judet views and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with artifact minimization should be considered to provide a better determination of the extent of the osteolysis. Because conventional radiographs underestimate the prevalence and extent of osteolysis in many instances, diagnosis and surveillance should be performed with radiographic edge detection, spiral computed tomography (CT), MRI, radiostereometric analysis, and quantitation of wear and osteolysis, including bone and soft-tissue lesions. Helical CT has demonstrated excellent specificity in identifying and quantifying the extent of osteolysis. MRI can more accurately localize both osseous and soft-tissue particulate disease, and detect granuloma and compression on adjacent nerves and vessels.

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