Highly cross-linked polyethylene (PE) has been introduced as an alternative bearing material in total hip arthroplasty (THA) because of high wear resistance in laboratory tests but the clinical experience of this material is limited. We evaluated a highly cross-linked PE (warm irradiated adiabatic melting, absorbed dose, 95 kGy) in a randomized study of cemented THAs. Cups of the same design but made of conventionally gamma irradiated PE (absorbed dose, 25-40 kGy) constituted the control group. Sixty-one hips (30 women, 30 men) with a median age of 55 years (range, 35-70 years) were included. All patients received a Spectron stem with 28-mm CoCr head. Radiostereometric examinations with the patient supine or standing were done at regular intervals. Wear was measured with the patient in the supine position from the first postoperative week, whereas examinations done with the patient standing were initiated 3 months after the operation. Dual x-ray absorptiometry and conventional radiography were used to evaluate the bone mineral density and the radiolucencies around the acetabular component. Fifty-two patients (53 hips; 25 highly cross-linked, 28 control) have been followed up for 2 years. At the 2-year followup, the highly cross-linked cups showed 50% reduction of proximal wear compared with the control group, when the patients were studied standing. When evaluated supine, the difference in proximal wear did not reach significance. The migration of the socket, the relative changes of periprosthetic bone mineral density, and the progression of radiolucencies between the immediately postoperative followup and 2-year followup did not differ. Highly cross-linked PE showed increase resistance to wear. Different mechanical properties of the two types of PE studied did not alter the performance of the cup in terms of fixation, periprosthetic bone loss, and radiographic appearance. However, the followup is short and these results are preliminary.
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