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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1997 Nov;79(11):1635-41.

Determination of polyethylene wear in total hip replacements with use of digital radiographs.

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Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


We describe a computer-assisted vector wear technique for the determination of polyethylene wear on digital radiographs. Twenty-five hips that had had a total hip arthroplasty were used to evaluate the repeatability and performance of three radiographic techniques to measure wear of the acetabular polyethylene liner: the manual technique with use of calipers described by Livermore et al., the same technique with use of a digitizing tablet, and our new technique of computer-assisted vector wear analysis. We found our new technique to be at least ten times more repeatable than the technique with use of either calipers or a digitizing tablet. Fourteen of the polyethylene liners were retrieved at autopsy, and the actual measurements of wear of those liners were compared with the measurements that had been obtained with the three radiographic techniques of wear analysis. Computer-assisted vector wear analysis outperformed the manual techniques of Livermore et al. When compared with the data obtained from the specimens retrieved at autopsy, the measurement of wear determined with the computer-assisted technique differed by an average of 0.08 millimeter, whereas the measurements obtained with use of calipers and use of a digitizing tablet differed by 0.26 and 0.25 millimeter, respectively. The performance of computer-assisted vector wear analysis in the clinical setting was evaluated with use of controls with known amounts of wear. These were mounted in pelvic phantoms, and radiographs were made with use of a setup that simulated the clinical setting. Analysis of nine controls with 2.0 millimeters of wear yielded an average measurement of wear (and a standard deviation) of 1.99 +/- 0.21 millimeters.


Computer-assisted vector wear analysis demonstrated superior repeatability and accuracy compared with current techniques of manual analysis. Improved repeatability and accuracy in the determination of polyethylene wear should facilitate the investigation of factors related to the prosthesis and to the patient that affect the rates of wear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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