Arthroscopic Joint Resurfacing: A Tribological Research Study of Friction and Wear

Articular cartilage injuries are associated with joint trauma. Following injury, the articular cartilage surface continues to mechanically degenerate, causes accelerated degeneration of the opposing cartilage surface, and leads to functional limitations. Many of the current surgical approaches to treating isolated unipolar articular cartilage injuries fall short of restoring a normal articular cartilage surface. Therefore, we must confront the issue of altered tribological properties, continued degradation of the joint surface, and subsequent arthritis.

The purpose of our study is to investigate the tribological behavior of bovine cartilage sliding against different artificial surface materials utilized in partial joint resurfacing. We hypothesize that through tribological studies, we will find the artificial material that least damages the opposing cartilage under dynamic loading force, and we will attain a better understanding of the mechanism of cartilage wear.

We demonstrated that artificial joint resurfacing implants produce coefficients of friction that are higher than the coefficient of friction produced by the native cartilage in counter-surface reciprocation studies. However, all artificial materials do not produce equal coefficients of friction and the selection of material used in surgery should not be arbitrary. We showed that the coefficient of friction produced by the polyurethane counterface is significantly lower, and more equivalent to the coefficient of friction produced by the cartilage counterface, than the coefficients of friction produced by chrome cobalt and polyethylene counterfaces.

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