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Joint Replacement: One Step at a Time

MGH researchers put replacement joints through the paces, subjecting them to 10 years worth of walking in the lab.

By Brandon Keim // The MGH Research Issue 2011
Testing Machines

Bruce Peterson for Proto

In Orhun Muratoglu’s MGH laboratory, testing machines walk ceaselessly in place, rolling cross-linked polyethylene hip joints at human body temperature in a lubricating fluid taken from cows. They pack 10 years’ worth of steps into one, allowing researchers to anticipate how long cross-linked polyethylene hip joints will endure. For patients who received the first generation of joints, “we’re now at 13 years. We’re beyond the target mark of 10 years,” Muratoglu says. “Older, conventional polyethylene replacements would have already started to fail.”

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