The plastic components of 280 retrieved unicondylar and total knee arthroplasties were studied. Wear was visually scored using a relative ranked data method. Although wear on the components was highly variable, several conclusions could be drawn regarding the nature and causes. Wear was associated more with the medial than the lateral condyle. Delamination was the most severe type of wear and occurred in short (< 5 years)-, medium (5- 10 years)-, and long (> 10 years)-term retrievals. In the short term, delamination wear was associated with hot pressing of the tibial plastic or with fracture of the tibial baseplate. For a single design, a significant difference in the amount of delamination on hot-pressed and non-hot-pressed tibial components was observed. In medium- and long-term retrieved specimens of the designs with moderately high conformity, delamination wear was associated with restriction of rotational movement of the femoral component or with abrupt changes in the radius of the tibial component. In flatter, less conforming designs, wear was associated with laxity, such that the polyethylene delaminated toward the edges of the tibial component. Wear attributed to cement abrasion or entrapment occurred on the more conforming designs. Delamination was associated with the presence of fusion defects in the polyethylene but could also occur in the absence of such defects. That delamination was the principal wear type and that this is caused by a fatigue mechanism mean that the incidence of failure could accelerate considerably over follow-up periods beyond 10 years. Designs of moderate conformity without abrupt changes in radii may prolong the duration of plastic tibial components before serious delamination occurs.
- knee arthroplasty
- retrieved prostheses