T.J. Kinnari, J. Esteban, N. Zamora, R. Fernández, C. López-Santos, F. Yubero, D. Mariscal, J.A. Puertolas, E. Gómez-Barrena
Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 16 (2010) 1036-1041
doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2009.02995.x

Sterilization with ethylene oxide (EO) and gas plasma (GP) are well-known methods applied to ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) surfaces in the belief that they prevent major material changes caused by gamma irradiation. However, the influence of these surface sterilization methods on bacterial adherence to UHMWPE is unknown. UHMWPE samples with various degrees of roughness (0.3, 0.8 and 2.0 μm) were sterilized with either GP or EO. The variations in hydrophobicity, surface free energy and surface functional groups were investigated before and after sterilization. Sterilized samples were incubated with either Staphylococcus aureus or Staphylococcus epidermidis in order to study bacterial adherence to these materials. Fewer bacteria adhered to UHMWPE after sterilization with EO than after sterilization with GP, especially to the smoothest surfaces. No changes in chemical composition of the UHMWPE surface due to sterilization were observed using X-ray photoemission spectroscopy analysis. The decreased bacterial adherence to UHMWPE found at the smoothest surfaces after sterilization with EO was not directly related to changes in chemical composition. Increased bacterial adherence to rougher surfaces was associated with increased polar surface energy of EO-sterilized surfaces.

Effect of surface roughness and sterilization on bacterial adherence to UHMWPE