The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of ceramic femoral head material, size, and implantation periods on the wear of annealed, cross-linked ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) (XLPE) in total hip arthroplasty compared to non-cross-linked conventional UHMWPE (CPE). XLPE was fabricated by cross-linking with 60 kGy irradiation and annealing. Femoral heads made from zirconia and alumina ceramics and cobalt-chrome (CoCr) of 22 or 26 mm diameter were used. In this retrospective cohort study, the femoral head penetration into the cup was measured digitally on radiographs of 367 hips with XLPE and 64 hips with CPE. The average follow-up periods were 6.3 and 11.9 years, respectively. Both XLPE creep and wear rates were significantly lower than those of CPE (0.19 mm vs. 0.44 mm, 0.0001 mm/year vs. 0.09 mm/year, respectively). Zirconia displayed increased wear rates compared to alumina in CPE; however, there was no difference among head materials in XLPE (0.0008, 0.00007, and -0.009 mm/year for zirconia, alumina, and CoCr, respectively). Neither head size or implantation period impacted XLPE wear. In contrast to CPE, XLPE displayed low wear rates surpassing the effects of varying femoral head material, size, implantation period, and patient demographics. Further follow-up is required to determine the long-term clinical performance of the annealed XLPE.
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