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PURPOSE: The Oxford unicompartmental knee replacement (UKR) has a fully congruent mobile bearing to minimise wear. However, with younger higher demand patients, wear remains a concern. The aim of this study was to quantify the wear rate of Phase 3 Oxford UKR bearings over the course of 5 years and to identify the factors that influence it. METHODS: 40 medial Oxford UKRs recruited for a randomised study of cemented and cementless fixation were studied with Radiostereometric analysis (RSA) at 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 5 years post-operatively and bearing thickness was calculated. Penetration, defined as the change in thickness compared to the 1-week measurement, was determined. Creep (early penetration) and wear (late penetration at a constant rate) were calculated. The influence of demographic factors, Oxford Knee Score (OKS), Tegner score, fixation and bearing overhang (determined by RSA) on wear was analysed. RESULTS: After 6 months the penetration rate was constant, indicating that wear alone was occurring. The wear rate was 0.07 mm/year (SD 0.03). The creep was 0.06 mm with about 95% occurring during the first 3 months. There was no significant relationship between fixation (cemented/cementless), age, component size, OKS and Tegner score with wear rate. Increasing BMI was associated with decreasing wear (p = 0.042). 37/40 bearings overhung the tibia to some extent and 23/40 overhung the tibia medially. An increase in the area of overhang (p = 0.036), amount of medial overhang (p = 0.028) and distance between the bearing and tibial wall (p = 0.019) were associated with increased wear. Bearings that did not overhang (0.06 mm/year) had less wear (p = 0.025) than those that did (0.08 mm/year). There was no relationship (p = 0.6) between the femoral contact area and wear. CONCLUSION: During the first three to six months after implantation, the bearing becomes 0.06 mm thinner due to creep. The combined wear rate of the upper and lower surfaces of the bearing is constant (0.07 mm/year). The wear is lower if the bearing does not overhang the tibia so surgeons should aim for the bearing to be close to the tibial wall. The orientation of the femoral component does not influence wear. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Retrospective Study, Level III.

Original publication




Journal article


Knee surg sports traumatol arthrosc

Publication Date



Knee arthroplasty, Knee replacement, Polyethylene, Radiostereometric analysis, Unicompartmental, Unicondylar