Large Metal Heads and Vitamin E Polyethylene Increase Frictional Torque in Total Hip Arthroplasty

R. Michael Meneghini, Luke R. Lovro, Joseph M. Wallace, Mary Ziemba-Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Trunnionosis has reemerged in modern total hip arthroplasty for reasons that remain unclear. Bearing frictional torque transmits forces to the modular head-neck interface, which may contribute to taper corrosion. The purpose of this study is to compare frictional torque of modern bearing couples in total hip arthroplasty. Methods: Mechanical testing based on in vivo loading conditions was used to measure frictional torque. All bearing couples were lubricated and tested at 1 Hz for more than 2000 cycles. The bearing couples tested included conventional, highly crosslinked (XLPE) and vitamin E polyethylene, CoCr, and ceramic femoral heads and dual-mobility bearings. Statistical analysis was performed using Student t test for single-variable and analysis of variance for multivariant analysis. P ≤ .05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Large CoCr metal heads (≥ 36 mm) substantially increased frictional torque against XLPE liners (P = .01), a finding not observed in ceramic heads. Vitamin E polyethylene substantially increased frictional torque compared with XLPE in CoCr and ceramic heads (P = .001), whereas a difference between conventional and XLPE was not observed (P = .69) with the numbers available. Dual-mobility bearing with ceramic inner head demonstrated the lowest mean frictional torque of all bearing couples. Conclusion: In this simulated in vivo model, large-diameter CoCr femoral heads and vitamin E polyethylene liners are associated with increased frictional torque compared with smaller metal heads and XLPE, respectively. The increased frictional torque of vitamin E polyethylene and larger-diameter femoral heads should be considered and further studied, along with reported benefits of these modern bearing couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-714
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Frictional torque
  • Highly crosslinked polyethylene
  • Total hip arthroplasty
  • Trunnionosis
  • Vitamin E polyethylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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