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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2002 Nov;(404):353-61.

Effects of metal-inlay thickness in polyethylene cups with metal-on-metal bearings.

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Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


A way to prevent polyethylene wear in total hip replacements is to use metal-on-metal bearings. The cup design of these bearings may be a metal inlay in a polyethylene cup. However, these metal inlays are relatively thin and may deform on loading. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether these potential problems become actual for a realistic range of metal-inlay components having a thickness greater than 1 mm. For this purpose, the effects of thickness variation of a metal inlay in an ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene cup were determined using three-dimensional finite element techniques. The results showed no indications for jamming of the bearing assuming a realistic inlay thickness (3-5 mm), even with a small clearance (25 microm). The metal inlay acted rigidly beyond a thickness of approximately 5 mm. Metal inlays thinner than 1.5 mm led to a considerable increase in contact area and a reduction in contact peak stress, which may be beneficial for the bearing performance. Currently, these thin liners have too many unknown characteristics and therefore the current authors recommend using rigid metal liners that have a thickness greater than 5 mm.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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