New UHMWPE grades aim to extend lifetime of orthopedic implants

31-Oct-07
With an aim to further extend the lifetime of orthopedic implants, Ticona has developed two new grades of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) containing vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). The addition of this biocompatible antioxidant provides these new grades with effective oxidation stability. An increasing number of people are relying on synthetic orthopedic joints or joint components for hips, knees, shoulders, spine components, elbows or ankles implants because they offer high functionality over a long lifetime. Because of the excellent combination of properties, including biocompatibility, high abrasion resistance, impact strength and fatigue and crack resistance, GUR UHMWPE polymers from Ticona have long been the gold standard for such applications. Implants made from this material need to be sterilized. When sterilization is accomplished by modern irradiation techniques, stabilization with vitamin E is intended to reduce susceptibility to oxidation in this process. The biocompatible antioxidant has already been used for many years in the food industry. The physiological compatibility of GUR polymers has been proven since the 1960s. This thermoplastic meets the standards of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Class IV, and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, GUR polymers meet the requirements of standard ASTM F648 published by the American Society for Testing and Materials and ISO standard 5834-1/-2 for starting materials and semi-finished products. Every year, an estimated 1.5 million orthopedic joint replacement operations are carried out worldwide. In view of the aging and increasingly overweight population, it is anticipated that the number of surgeries will continue to rise. Innovative materials such as the new GUR grades containing vitamin E provide oxidative stability that is associated with improved implant wear, and which may result in the avoidance of unnecessary follow-up surgeries.
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