Background: Lumbar total disc replacement (L-TDR) is a procedure used to relieve back pain and maintain mobility. Contemporary metal-on-polyethylene (MoP) L-TDRs were developed to address wear performance concerns about historical designs, but wear debris generation and periprosthetic tissue reactions for these newer implants have not been determined. Questions/purposes: The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether periprosthetic ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) wear debris and biological responses were present in tissues from revised contemporary MoP L-TDRs that contain conventional cores fabricated from γ-inert-sterilized UHMWPE; (2) how fixed- versus mobile-bearing design affected UHMWPE wear particle number, shape, and size; and (3) how these wear particle characteristics compare with historical MoP L-TDRs that contain cores fabricated from γ-air-sterilized UHMWPE. Methods: We evaluated periprosthetic tissues from 11 patients who received eight fixed-bearing ProDisc-L and four mobile-bearing CHARITÉ contemporary L-TDRs with a mean implantation time of 4.1 and 2.7 years, respectively. Histologic analysis of tissues was performed to assess biological responses and polarized light microscopy was used to quantify number and size/shape characteristics of UHMWPE wear particles from the fixed- and mobile-bearing devices. Comparisons were made to previously reported particle data for historical L-TDRs. Results: Five of seven (71%) fixed-bearing and one of four mobile-bearing L-TDR patient tissues contained at least 4 particles/mm(2) wear with associated macrophage infiltration. Tissues with wear debris were highly vascularized, whereas those without debris were more necrotic. Given the samples available, the tissue around mobile-bearing L-TDR was observed to contain 87% more, 11% rounder, and 11% less-elongated wear debris compared with tissues around fixed-bearing devices; however, there were no significant differences. Compared with historical L-TDRs, UHMWPE particle number and circularity for contemporary L-TDRs were 99% less (p = 0.003) and 50% rounder (p = 0.003). Conclusions: In this preliminary study, short-term results suggest there was no significant influence of fixed- or mobile-bearing designs on wear particle characteristics of contemporary L-TDRs, but conventional UHMWPE has notably improved the wear resistance of these devices compared with historical UHMWPE.


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