Wear behaviour in total ankle replacement: A comparison between an in vitro simulation and retrieved prostheses

S. Affatato, P. Taddei, A. Leardini, S. Giannini, M. Spinelli, M. Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To minimise wear of the meniscal component in total ankle replacement, a three-component artificial joint has recently been developed. This new prosthesis has convex spherical tibial and anticlastic talar metal components with non-anatomic but ligament-compatible shapes in the sagittal plane, and a fully conforming ultra-high-molecular-weight-polyethylene meniscal component inserted in between. The in vitro wear of meniscal components can be assessed using a four-station joint simulator. The study was aimed at comparing wear patterns obtained in vitro with those observed in implant retrievals with the same design. Methods: The wear tests were run in a joint wear simulator at a frequency of 1.1 Hz for two million cycles. Three bearings within corresponding metal components were subjected to flexion/extension (range 0-58°), anterior-posterior translation (0-5.2 mm), internal-external rotation (-1.9° to +5.7°), and a maximum axial load of 2.6 KN. These conditions were taken from the most recent findings in ankle joint mechanics. Three prostheses of the same type were harvested from patients due to replacement failures not associated with the device, 24, 24 and 9 months, respectively, after implantation. The in vitro worn components and the three retrievals were analysed by using a scanning electron microscope, a Coordinate Measuring Machine, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. Findings: Visual and microscopic observations, analyses, and Raman crystallinity-based measurements showed similarity between the patterns generated experimentally in the wear simulator and those seen in retrievals with similar wear life. Interpretation: A joint wear simulator like the one used in this study, once configured properly, appears to be suitable to assess wear rates also in total ankle prostheses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-669
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • CMM
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • SEM
  • Talar component
  • Three compartment ankle prosthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biophysics


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