The effect of radiation dose on the tensile and impact toughness of highly cross-linked and remelted ultrahigh-molecular weight polyethylenes

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Abstract

Several highly cross-linked and remelted ultrahigh-molecular weight polyethylenes (UHMWPE) were introduced in 1998 as bearing materials for orthopaedic implants to achieve superior wear performance. However, gamma radiation and the subsequent postirradiation thermal treatment are associated with decreased mechanical properties such as ductility, toughness, and fatigue strength compared to noncross-linked materials. The purpose of this study was (a) to characterize the toughness (tensile and impact) of highly cross-linked and remelted UHMWPE of varying doses (0–255 kGy) and (b) determine whether a correlation exists between both toughness measures. As radiation dose increased, tensile toughness and impact toughness were shown to decrease in a nonlinear fashion; largely a result of the decrease in ductility, which was also observed. Impact toughness and tensile toughness were also found to be strongly correlated to one another (R2 = 0.97). © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 2011.

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