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. Apr-Jun 2012;2(2):94-102.
doi: 10.4161/biom.20710.

Evaluation of Silicon Nitride as a Wear Resistant and Resorbable Alternative for Total Hip Joint Replacement

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Free PMC article

Evaluation of Silicon Nitride as a Wear Resistant and Resorbable Alternative for Total Hip Joint Replacement

Johanna Olofsson et al. Biomatter. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Many of the failures of total joint replacements are related to tribology, i.e., wear of the cup, head and liner. Accumulation of wear particles at the implants can be linked to osteolysis which leads to bone loss and in the end aseptic implant loosening. Therefore it is highly desirable to reduce the generation of wear particles from the implant surfaces. Silicon nitride (Si(3)N(4)) has shown to be biocompatible and have a low wear rate when sliding against itself and is therefore a good candidate as a hip joint material. Furthermore, wear particles of Si(3)N(4) are predicted to slowly dissolve in polar liquids and they therefore have the potential to be resorbed in vivo, potentially reducing the risk for aseptic loosening. In this study, it was shown that α-Si(3)N(4)-powder dissolves in PBS. Adsorption of blood plasma indicated a good acceptance of Si(3)N(4) in the body with relatively low immune response. Si(3)N(4) sliding against Si(3)N(4) showed low wear rates both in bovine serum and PBS compared with the other tested wear couples. Tribofilms were built up on the Si(3)N(4) surfaces both in PBS and in bovine serum, controlling the friction and wear characteristics.

Keywords: friction; hip joint replacement; silicon nitride; solubility; wear.

Figures

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Figure 1. Coefficient of friction as a function of number of revolutions in the pin-on-disc test, with either PBS or a serum solution as lubricant.
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Figure 2. Optical profile images of worn discs and the calculated cross-section areas of the wear tracks. All the images have the same magnification. The width of the analyzed area is 1.1 mm, except for the enlarged area of the Si3N4 disc that slid against a Si3N4-ball in PBS.
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Figure 3. Surface appearance of the wear tracks in the SEM; (a) Si3N4-disc slid against Si3N4-ball in PBS, the arrow follows the wear track; (b) CoCr-disc slid against Si3N4-ball in PBS; (c) Si3N4-disc slid against Si3N4-ball in bovine serum, the arrow follows the wear track; (d) CoCr-disc slid against Si3N4-ball in bovine serum.
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Figure 4. Depth distribution of different elements in the CoCr samples; (a) Surface immersed in PBS, (b) Surface exposed to bovine serum, outside the wear track; (c) Surface exposed to bovine serum in the wear track.
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Figure 5. XPS spectra of CoCr samples at different times of sputtering (0, 30 and 60 sec); (a) Cr 2p peak recorded from the CoCr immersed in PBS (passivated); (b); C 1s-peak for CoCr in bovine serum, both in and outside wear track; (c) N 1s-peak for CoCr in bovine serum, both in and outside wear track.
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Figure 6. XPS spectra obtained from bovine and PBS lubricated Si3N4 surfaces; (a) Si2p peak; (b) N 1s peak; (c); C 1s peak.
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Figure 7. XRD of Si3N4; (a) powder; (b) disc; (c) ball.
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Figure 8. Concentration of free Si in PBS solutions of different pH after 35 and 75 d.
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Figure 9. Adsorbed amounts of blood plasma and antibodies onto surfaces of CoCr, Si3N4 and reference surfaces of titanium. The lower part of the bar represents adsorbed plasma and the upper part represents adsorbed antibody. Results from adsorption experiments on zirconia surfaces are also included.

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