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Compatibility of the totally replaced hip. Reduction of wear by amorphous diamond coating.

  • Santavirta, Seppo
Published Article
Acta orthopaedica Scandinavica. Supplementum
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2003
PMID: 14768485


Particulate wear debris in totally replaced hips causes adverse local host reactions. The extreme form of such a reaction, aggressive granulomatosis, was found to be a distinct condition and different from simple aseptic loosening. Reactive and adaptive tissues around the totally replaced hip were made of proliferation of local fibroblast like cells and activated macrophages. Methylmethacrylate and high-molecular-weight polyethylene were shown to be essentially immunologically inert implant materials, but in small particulate form functioned as cellular irritants initiating local biological reactions leading to loosening of the implants. Chromium-cobalt-molybdenum is the most popular metallic implant material; it is hard and tough, and the bearings of this metal are partially self-polishing. In total hip implants, prerequisites for longevity of the replaced hip are good biocompatibility of the materials and sufficient tribological properties of the bearings. The third key issue is that the bearing must minimize frictional shear at the prosthetic bone-implant interface to be compatible with long-term survival. Some of the approaches to meet these demands are alumina-on-alumina and metal-on-metal designs, as well as the use of highly crosslinked polyethylene for the acetabular component. In order to avoid the wear-based deleterious properties of the conventional total hip prosthesis materials or coatings, the present work included biological and tribological testing of amorphous diamond. Previous experiments had demonstrated that a high adhesion of tetrahedral amorphous carbon coatings to a substrate can be achieved by using mixing layers or interlayers. Amorphous diamond was found to be biologically inert, and simulator testing indicated excellent wear properties for conventional total hip prostheses, in which either the ball or both bearing surfaces were coated with hydrogen-free tetrahedral amorphous diamond films. Simulator testing with such total hip prostheses showed no measurable wear or detectable delamination after 15,000,000 test cycles corresponding to 15 years of clinical use. The present work clearly shows that wear is one of the basic problems with totally replaced hips. Diamond coating of the bearing surfaces appears to be an attractive solution to improve longevity of the totally replaced hip.

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