Background: The surface characteristics of the femoral component affect polyethylene wear in modular total knee replacements. In the present retrieval study, the surface characteristics of cobalt-chromium (CoCr) alloy and oxidized zirconium (OxZr) femoral components were assessed and compared.
Methods: Twenty-six retrieved CoCr alloy femoral components were matched with twenty-six retrieved OxZr femoral components for implantation period, body-mass index, patient gender, implant type, and polyethylene insert thickness. The surface damage on the retrieved femoral components was evaluated using a semi-quantitative assessment method, scanning electron microscopy, and contact profilometry.
Results: The retrieved CoCr alloy femoral components showed less posterior surface gouging than OxZr femoral components; however, at a higher magnification, the grooving damage features on the retrieved CoCr alloy femoral components confirmed an abrasive wear mechanism. The surface roughness values Rp, Rpm, and Rpk for the retrieved CoCr alloy femoral components were found to be significantly higher than those of the retrieved OxZr femoral components (p≤0.031). The surface roughness values were higher on the medial condyles than on the lateral condyles of the retrieved CoCr alloy femoral components; such a difference was not observed on the retrieved OxZr femoral components.
Conclusions: The surface roughness of CoCr alloy femoral components increased while the surface roughness of the OxZr femoral components remained unchanged after in vivo service. Therefore, the OxZr femoral components' resistance to abrasive wear may enable lower polyethylene wear and ensure long-term durability in vivo.
Level of evidence: Level IV.
Keywords: Cobalt chromium alloy; Oxidized zirconium; Retrieval analysis; Surface roughness; Total knee replacement.
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