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Keywords:

  • wear;
  • vitamin E;
  • joint implants;
  • crosslinking;
  • grafting;
  • oxidation

Abstract

Vitamin E stabilization of radiation crosslinked ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for total joint implants can be done by blending of UHMWPE resin powder with vitamin E, followed by consolidation and irradiation of the blend. It is well known that vitamin E prevents crosslinking in UHMWPE during ionizing radiation. We hypothesized that there would also be a significant amount of grafting of vitamin E onto UHMWPE during irradiation. Spectroscopic analysis of radiation crosslinked vitamin E-blended UHMWPE before and after extraction with boiling hexane showed vitamin E grafting in up to 30% of the blended vitamin E. Grafting increased with irradiation temperature. We also discovered that increasing irradiation temperature resulted in better preservation of active vitamin E in the polymer and increased crosslinking efficiency of UHMWPE. As a result, warm-irradiated vitamin E-blended UHMWPEs had significantly less wear than those irradiated at ambient temperature. It may be desirable to graft vitamin E on UHMWPE to decrease the possibility of elution and increase long-term stability. Warm irradiation of vitamin E blends may present an advantage in increasing vitamin E potency, as well as decreasing the wear of UHMWPE, which is crucial in decreasing the incidence of periprosthetic osteolysis in total joint replacement patients. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater 101B: 436–440, 2013.