Vitamin E-blended highly cross-linked polyethylene liners in total hip arthroplasty: a randomized, multicenter trial using virtual CAD-based wear analysis at 5-year follow-up

André Busch, Marcus Jäger, Stefan Klebingat, Josef Baghdadi, Thilo Flörkemeier, Felix Hütter, Thomas M Grupp, Marcel Haversath
Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 2020 February 12

BACKGROUND: Progressive oxidation of highly cross-linked ultra-high molecular weight (UHMPWE-X) liners is considered to be a risk factor for material failure in THA. Antioxidants such as vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) (UHMWPE-XE) were supplemented into the latest generation of polyethylene liners. To prevent inhomogenous vitamin E distribution within the polymer, blending was established as an alternative manufacturing process to diffusion. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the in vivo wear behavior of UHMWPE-XE in comparison with conventional UHMWPE-X liners using virtual CAD-based radiographs.

METHODS: Until now, 94 patients from a prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter study were reviewed at 5-year follow-up. Of these, 51 (54%) received UHMWPE-XE and 43 (46%) UHMWPE-X liners. Anteroposterior pelvic radiographs were made immediately after surgery and at 1 and 5 years postoperatively. The radiographs were analyzed using the observer-independent analysis software RayMatch® (Raylytic GmbH, Leipzig, Germany).

RESULTS: The mean wear rate was measured to be 23.6 μm/year (SD 13.7; range 0.7-71.8 μm). There were no significant differences between the two cohorts (UHMWPE-X: 23.2 μm/year vs. UHMWPE-XE: 24.0 μm/year, p = 0.73). Cup anteversion significantly changed within the 1st year after implantation independent from the type of polyethylene liner [UHMWPE-X: 18.2-23.9° (p = 0.0001); UHMWPE-XE: 21.0-25.5° (p = 0.002)]. No further significant changes of cup anteversion in both groups were found between year 1 and 5 after implantation [UHMWPE-X (p = 0.46); UHMWPE-XE (p = 0.56)].

CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrates that the addition of vitamin E does not adversely affect the midterm wear behavior of UHMWPE-X. The antioxidative benefit of vitamin E is expected to become evident in long-term follow-up. Cup anteversion increment by 5° within the 1st year is likely a result of the released hip flexion contracture resulting in an enhanced posterior pelvic tilt. Therefore, a reassessment of target values in acetabular cup placement might be considered.


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