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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2010 Mar;92(3):367-73. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.92B3.22491.

Polyethylene wear in Oxford unicompartmental knee replacement: a retrieval study of 47 bearings.

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Biomedical Research Unit, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Windmill Road, Oxford OX3 7LD, UK.


The Oxford Unicompartmental Knee replacement (UKR) was introduced as a design to reduce polyethylene wear. There has been one previous retrieval study involving this implant, which reported very low rates of wear in some specimens but abnormal patterns of wear in others. There has been no further investigation of these abnormal patterns. The bearings were retrieved from 47 patients who had received a medial Oxford UKR for anteromedial osteoarthritis of the knee. None had been studied previously. The mean time to revision was 8.4 years (sd 4.1), with 20 having been implanted for over ten years. The macroscopic pattern of polyethylene wear and the linear penetration were recorded for each bearing. The mean rate of linear penetration was 0.07 mm/year. The patterns of wear fell into three categories, each with a different rate of linear penetration; 1) no abnormal macroscopic wear and a normal articular surface, n = 16 (linear penetration rate = 0.01 mm/year); 2) abnormal macroscopic wear and normal articular surfaces with extra-articular impingement, n = 16 (linear penetration rate = 0.05 mm/year); 3) abnormal macroscopic wear and abnormal articular surfaces with intra-articular impingement +/- signs of non-congruous articulation, n = 15 (linear penetration rate = 0.12 mm/year). The differences in linear penetration rate were statistically significant (p < 0.001). These results show that very low rates of polyethylene wear are possible if the device functions normally. However, if the bearing displays suboptimal function (extra-articular, intra-articular impingement or incongruous articulation) the rates of wear increase significantly.

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