This study examines the histological effects of different sizes of polyethylene particles implanted into the rabbit tibia. Seventeen mature New Zealand white female rabbits were allocated into three groups. Group 1 (5 rabbits) received polyethylene particles averaging approximately 16 microns in diameter, implanted into the right proximal tibia through a drill hole. Group 2 (5 animals) received particles averaging 26 microns, and Group 3 (7 rabbits) received particles averaging 67 microns. The left tibia was drilled but not implanted. Animals were sacrificed after 16 weeks. Histological analysis disclosed decreased hematopoietic activity within the left tibial drill hole. In all groups, the right tibia demonstrated positively birefringent polyethylene particles surrounded by, and within (smaller particles), histiocytes and giant cells in a fibrous tissue stroma. Statistical analysis disclosed more fibrocytes and less marrow cells at the interface of Group 3 (largest particles) compared to Group 1 and 2. Larger polyethylene particles, being less readily phagocytosed, appear to produce more fibrous encapsulation, compared to particles of a smaller size. The histological reaction stimulated by the different sizes of polyethylene particles resembled the membrane surrounding loose joint arthroplasties in humans.
View details for PubMedID 2189880