Long-term performance of oxidized zirconium on conventional and highly cross-linked polyethylene in total hip arthroplasty

SICOT J. 2020;6:10. doi: 10.1051/sicotj/2020010. Epub 2020 May 7.


Introduction: Polyethylene wear and subsequent osteolysis remain obstacles to the long-term survivorship of total hip arthroplasty (THA). Highly cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) with radical quenching represents a massive leap forward with dramatically improved wear rates compared to ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). In this study we evaluate the wear of UHMWPE and XLPE coupled with oxidized zirconium (OxZr) femoral heads.

Methods: A longitudinal, retrospective analysis was performed identifying consecutive patients who received a 28-mm OxZr-on-polyethylene primary THA from 2003 to 2004 by a single, high-volume arthroplasty surgeon. Patients were divided into two groups: those that received (1) UHMWPE liner and (2) a highly XLPE liner. Patients were included if clinical follow-up was complete to 2014 or later. Radiographic analysis was performed by two blinded observers. Measures included cup position, annual linear wear rate, and presence of osteolysis. Pairwise comparisons, correlations, and inter-rater reliability were calculated.

Results: Eighty patients were in the UHMWPE group with an average follow-up of 10 ± 1.23 years and 88 patients in the XLPE group with an average of 10 ± 1.03-year follow-up. Average age (68) was similar between groups (p = 0.288). Observer reliability was excellent for cup abduction (ICC = 0.940), anteversion (ICC = 0.942), and detection of osteolysis (ICC = 0.811). Annual linear wear rates were significantly higher (p = 1 × 10-19) with UHMWPE (0.21 ± 0.12 mm/year) compared to XLPE (0.05 ± 0.03 mm/year). Linear wear rate was significantly correlated to decreasing acetabular abduction (p = 0.035). Osteolysis was noted only in the UHMWPE group, with 17 patients (21.2%) exhibiting acetabular osteolysis and 37 (46.3%) patients exhibiting femoral osteolysis.

Conclusions: OxZr coupled with XLPE showed minimal wear and no osteolysis at 10-year follow up. The yearly linear penetration rate is similar to that seen in other studies of XLPE THA. A careful longitudinal follow-up will be required to determine if advanced bearings such as OxZr or ceramic can show improved performance in the second decade of implantation.

Keywords: Highly cross-linked polyethylene; Long-term outcomes; Osteolysis; Oxidized zirconium; Total hip arthroplasty.