This paper describes an experimental method, Bio-Ferrography, to separate ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) wear debris, generated in hip simulators, from bovine serum lubricating fluid. A total of 54 experiments were performed in which an enzyme digestion “cocktail” was developed and used to clean the bovine serum samples of extraneous sugars, proteins and lipids that interfere with the UHMWPE particle separation. Erbium chloride was used to marginally magnetize particles in the fluid prior to passing through the ferrographic device. The particles were captured and separated from the fluid by traversing the treated serum across a magnetic gap of a bio-ferrograph. Morphology of the captured and separated wear debris was compared with particles from samples of fluid filtered through a paper sieve arrangement with pores of 0.05 micrometers in diameter. The UHMWPE wear debris collected using the described experimental method, were found to be between 0.1 and 20 micrometers in diameter with spherical and pill-shaped particles. The filtered UHMWPE particles were also in the same size range as the debris separated using bio-ferrography, 0.1 to 20 micrometers. To show that the experimental method captured UHMWPE particles, the spectra of the chemical composition of UHMWPE from an acetabular cup insert of a hip implant and of UHMWPE particles separated using Bio-Ferrography were compared and found to be the same. To further demonstrate that polyethylene could be captured and separated through the experimental method, manufactured polyethylene microspheres in the diameter range of 3 to 45 micrometers, were captured and separated using the bio-ferrographic process.

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