The primary function of articular cartilage is to serve as the bearing material in diarthrodial joints, transmitting loads while minimizing friction and wear. The friction coefficient of cartilage has been characterized extensively in the literature, using standard measurements of normal and tangential forces acting across a sliding interface [1]. However, quantitative measurements of cartilage wear have proven to be more challenging, with only a few studies having reported such measurements. The primary quantitative approaches proposed to date include biochemical assaying of cartilage and test solutions [2], and characterization of changing articular layer thickness [3] and surface roughness [4]. One study examining polyethylene wear debris in hip arthroplasty reported the use of an automated particle analyzer [5]. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that latest-generation particle analyzers are capable of detecting cartilage wear debris generated during in vitro loading experiments that last 24 h or less, by producing measurable content significantly above background noise levels. The longer-term objective of our studies is to test the hypothesis that elevated interstitial fluid pressurization, which is known to reduce the friction coefficient of cartilage [6], also reduces cartilage wear.

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