Roques, A., Browne, M., Thompson, J., Rowland, C. and Taylor, A.
Investigation of fatigue crack growth in acrylic bone cement using the acoustic emission technique
Biomaterials, 25, (5), . (doi:10.1016/S0142-9612(03)00581-7).
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Failure of the bone cement mantle has been implicated in the loosening process of cemented hip stems. Current methods of investigating degradation of the cement mantle in vitro often require sectioning of the sample to confirm failure paths. The present research investigates acoustic emission as a passive experimental method for the assessment of bone cement failure. Damage in bone cement was monitored during four point bending fatigue tests through an analysis of the peak amplitude, duration, rise time (RT) and energy of the events emitted from the damage sections. A difference in AE trends was observed during failure for specimens aged and tested in (i) air and (ii) Ringer's solution at 37°C. It was noted that the acoustic behaviour varied according to applied load level; events of higher duration and RT were emitted during fatigue at lower stresses. A good correlation was observed between crack location and source of acoustic emission, and the nature of the acoustic parameters that were most suited to bone cement failure characterisation was identified. The methodology employed in this study could potentially be used as a pre-clinical assessment tool for the integrity of cemented load bearing implants.
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