The dominance of cyclic sliding in producing wear in total knee replacements

G W Blunn, P S Walker, A Joshi, K Hardinge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


From a literature survey, it was evident that a wide variety of kinematic conditions occur at the femoral-tibial bearing surfaces, including various degrees of rolling and sliding. A test machine was constructed to reproduce these conditions, applied to spherical-ended metal 'femoral' components acting on a flat polyethylene 'tibial' plateau. The load was cyclic at 2.2 kN for 10 million cycles with distilled water lubricant. For cyclic load only, a shiny depression was formed. With oscillating and sliding superimposed, there was severe surface and subsurface cracking resulting in high wear. When rolling motion was applied, a shiny wear track was formed with minimal cracking and wear. Such surface phenomena were observed in retrieved knee specimens, probably reflecting the kinematics associated with the knee. Low-conformity components inserted with high ligamentous laxity are susceptible to anteroposterior sliding and hence high wear. More-conforming components are less susceptible to wear because they limit sliding as well as reduce contact stresses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-60
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Issue number273
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1991


  • Corrosion
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint
  • Knee Prosthesis
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Movement
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Prosthesis Failure
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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