Biotribological assessment for artificial synovial joints : the role of boundary lubrication

Gale, Lorne Raymond (2007) Biotribological assessment for artificial synovial joints : the role of boundary lubrication. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Biotribology, the study of lubrication, wear and friction within the body, has become a topic of high importance in recent times as we continue to encounter debilitating diseases and trauma that destroy function of the joints. A highly successful surgical procedure to replace the joint with an artificial equivalent alleviates dysfunction and pain. However, the wear of the bearing surfaces in prosthetic joints is a significant clinical problem and more patients are surviving longer than the life expectancy of the joint replacement. Revision surgery is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and has a far less successful outcome than primary joint replacement. As such, it is essential to ensure that everything possible is done to limit the rate of revision surgery. Past experience indicates that the survival rate of the implant will be influenced by many parameters, of primary importance, the material properties of the implant, the composition of the synovial fluid and the method of lubrication. In prosthetic joints, effective boundary lubrication is known to take place. The interaction of the boundary lubricant and the bearing material is of utmost importance. The identity of the vital active ingredient within synovial fluid (SF) to which we owe the near frictionless performance of our articulating joints has been the quest of researchers for many years. Once identified, tribo tests can determine what materials and more importantly what surfaces this fraction of SF can function most optimally with. Surface-Active Phospholipids (SAPL) have been implicated as the body’s natural load bearing lubricant. Studies in this thesis are the first to fully characterise the adsorbed SAPL detected on the surface of retrieved prostheses and the first to verify the presence of SAPL on knee prostheses. Rinsings from the bearing surfaces of both hip and knee prostheses removed from revision operations were analysed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to determine the presence and profile of SAPL. Several common prosthetic materials along with a novel biomaterial were investigated to determine their tribological interaction with various SAPLs. A pin-on-flat tribometer was used to make comparative friction measurements between the various tribo-pairs. A novel material, Pyrolytic Carbon (PyC) was screened as a potential candidate as a load bearing prosthetic material. Friction measurements were also performed on explanted prostheses. SAPL was detected on all retrieved implant bearing surfaces. As a result of the study eight different species of phosphatidylcholines were identified. The relative concentrations of each species were also determined indicating that the unsaturated species are dominant. Initial tribo tests employed a saturated phosphatidylcholine (SPC) and the subsequent tests adopted the addition of the newly identified major constituents of SAPL, unsaturated phosphatidylcholine (USPC), as the test lubricant. All tribo tests showed a dramatic reduction in friction when synthetic SAPL was used as the lubricant under boundary lubrication conditions. Some tribopairs showed more of an affinity to SAPL than others. PyC performed superior to the other prosthetic materials. Friction measurements with explanted prostheses verified the presence and performance of SAPL. SAPL, in particular phosphatidylcholine, plays an essential role in the lubrication of prosthetic joints. Of particular interest was the ability of SAPLs to reduce friction and ultimately wear of the bearing materials. The identification and knowledge of the lubricating constituents of SF is invaluable for not only the future development of artificial joints but also in developing effective cures for several disease processes where lubrication may play a role. The tribological interaction of the various tribo-pairs and SAPL is extremely favourable in the context of reducing friction at the bearing interface. PyC is highly recommended as a future candidate material for use in load bearing prosthetic joints considering its impressive tribological performance.

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ID Code: 29159
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Hargreaves, Douglas, Crawford, Ross, & Hills, Brian
Keywords: SAPL, orthopaedics, biotribology, boundary lubrication, prosthetics, total joint replacement, PC, USPC, PyC, Pyrolytic Carbon, surfactant, synovial fluid, SF, arthritis, joint disease, cartilage, artificial joints, BL.
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 08 Dec 2009 01:24
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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