Douglas Van Citters

Douglas W. Van Citters

Associate Professor of Engineering

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education

Doug Van Citters ENGS165

Professor Van Citters stages mock surgeries for students in ENGS 165: Biomaterials. (Photo by Douglas Fraser)

Research Interests

Musculoskeletal Research, including: orthopaedic failure analysis and design; wear of polymers; polymer processing; biomaterials; biomechanics; implantable and wearable technology; surgical device design


  • AB/BE, Engineering Sciences, Dartmouth 1999
  • MS, Engineering Sciences, Dartmouth 2003
  • PhD, Engineering Sciences, Dartmouth 2006


  • Outstanding Service Award for Faculty, Thayer School of Engineering, 2020
  • ASME Journal of Tribology: Best Paper of 2007 Award, 2008
  • The Dean's Service Award, 2006
  • The Charles F. and Ruth D. Goodrich Prize, 2003
  • The Myron Tribus Fellowship, 2003
  • The Henry J. McCarthy 1931 Fellowship, 2001

Professional Activities

  • Advisor for Tau Beta Pi student chapter
  • Formula Hybrid Chief Engineering Examiner
  • Review board member and sponsor: Engineering Design Methodology
  • ASME Upper Valley Subsection Treasurer
  • Member of ASME, ORS, ASTM, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, and STLE

Research Projects

  • Orthopaedic implant failure analysis

    Orthopaedic implant failure analysis

    Implant failure analysis in the Dartmouth Biomedical Engineering Center for Orthopaedics is ongoing and plays a key role in identifying failure modes and relating them to various designs and materials being used in the industry. In fact, in 2000, NIH's Consensus Development Program produced a technology assessment statement acknowledging the value of implant retrieval programs:

    • Implant retrieval and analysis is of critical importance in the process of improving care of patients in need of implants.
    • Attention needs to be directed toward reducing various obstacles to implant retrieval and analysis, particularly legal and economic disincentives.
    • The failure to appreciate the value of implant retrieval and analysis is a serious impediment to research in devices. A focused educational program will provide the information necessary for improving the quality of future devices.

    See more about implant failure analysis.

  • Knee/shoulder implant bearing function

    Knee/shoulder implant bearing function

    Bearing function of retrieved knee devices sent to us by orthopaedic surgeons are assessed for damage, and also quantitatively assessed for wear. Dimensions of retrievals are compared to design specifications or shorter in-vivo duration devices to calculate both articular and backside wear. Wear and wear rate are correlated with variables including polyethylene pedigree, articular bearing geometry, device fixation, and patient factors.

    Current work also includes examination of a series of reverse and total shoulders to determine the incidence of abrasive and adhesive wear and determine typical locations for these wear patterns on polyethylene components.

    See more about knee/shoulder implant bearing function.

  • Joint replacement bearing material behavior

    Joint replacement bearing material behavior

    Material behavior of medical grade ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) was identified as a serious concern as it limits the overall lifetime and success of a joint replacement. Although total joint arthroplasty involving UHMWPE as a bearing surface has been one of the most successful procedures of the last century, issues of wear, oxidation, and fatigue failure remain obstacles to the longevity of joint replacements.

    See more about UHMWPE material behavior.

  • Biomechanics analysis and monitoring

    Biomechanics analysis and monitoring

    Biomechanics analysis and monitoring following joint arthroplasty is valuable for achieving optimal recovery. Our laboratory has developed and implemented a novel method for monitoring continuous long term joint function using inertial measurement units (IMUs). Prospective studies are in progress to compare knee and shoulder function before and after arthroplasty. This data can be compared to a cohort of healthy individuals with no known joint arthropathy.

    See more about biomechanics.

  • New materials for orthopaedic implants

    New materials for orthopaedic implants

    New materials research and development for orthopaedic implants includes:

    • Evaluation of equal channel angular extrusion (ECAE)-processed ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for joint arthroplasty and industrial applications;
    • Investigation of off-label use of a resorbable calcium sulfate antibiotic carrier in single stage and two-stage procedures to determine the potential of this use to change damage patterns or wear rates of artificial joints.

    See more about new materials.

  • New devices for total joint arthroplasty

    New devices for total joint arthroplasty

    New devices research and developent for total joint arthroplasty includes:

    • Testing of a new bi-material bearing for a total hip arthroplasty (THA) device against conventional bearing designs to compare levels of bearing surface damage and wear;
    • Development of an intraoperative method for quantifying the orientation of prosthetic components used in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) that is efficient, easy to use, cost effective, and quick with respect to total surgical time.

    See more about new devices.

Selected Publications

  • Lewicki KA, Van Citters DW (2016) "Experimental and Computational Thermal Modeling of In Vitro Pin on Disk Tests of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene." ASME. J. Tribol. 138(4): 041602-041602-7. doi:10.1115/1.4032819
  • Levine RA, Lewicki KA, Currier JH, Mayor MB, Van Citters DW (2016) "Contribution of Micromotion to Backside Wear in Fixed Bearing Total Knee Arthroplasty." J. Orthop. Res. 34: 1933–1940. doi:10.1002/jor.23203
  • Reinitz SD, Engler AJ, Carlson EM, Van Citters DW (2016) "Equal Channel Angular Extrusion of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene." Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 67(1): 623–628
  • Lewicki KA, Martin AJ, Bell JE, Van Citters DW (2016) "Factors contributing to humeral tray fracture in reverse shoulder arthroplasty." J Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. 25: 1288–1296
  • Reinitz SD, Carlson EM, Levine RA, Franklin KJ, Van Citters DW (2015) "Dynamic Mechanical Analysis as an Assay of Cross-link Density of Orthopaedic Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene." Polymer Testing. 45
  • Van Citters DW, Assael DJ, Currier JH (2015) "Metrology for Dual Taper Total Hip Arthroplasty." Modularity and Tapers in Total Joint Replacement Devices. STP159120140137, A Greenwald, S Kurtz, J Lemons, and W Mihalko, Ed., ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2015
  • Patten, EW, Van Citters, D, Ries, MD, & Pruitt, LA (2014) "Quantifying cross-shear under translation, rolling, and rotation, and its effect on UHMWPE wear." Wear. 313(1): 125–134
  • Reinitz SD, Currier BH, Levine RAC, Van Citters DW (2014) "Crosslink density, oxidation and chain scission in retrieved, high cross-linked UHMWPE tibial bearings." Biomaterials. 35(15): 4436–4440
  • McHugh DJ, Currier JH, Kennedy FE, Collier JP, Van Citters DW (2013) "Plastic Deformation from Edge Loading is Common on Retrieved Metal-on-Metal Hips and Can Be Predicted with Finite Element Analysis." Metal-On-Metal Total Hip Replacement Devices. STP156020120046, S Kurtz, A Greenwald, W Mihalko, and J Lemons, Ed., ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2013
  • Currier JH, McHugh DJ, Tower DR, Kennedy FE, Van Citters DW (2013) "Gouge features on metal-on-metal hip bearings can result from high stresses during rim contact." Tribology International. 63: 89–96
  • Currier, JH, Anderson, DE, Van Citters, DW (2010) "A proposed mechanism for squeaking of ceramic-on-ceramic hips." Wear. 269: 782–789
  • Van Citters DW, Kennedy FE, Collier JP (2007) "Rolling Sliding Wear of UHMWPE for Knee Bearing Applications." Wear. 263: 1087–1094


  • Movement monitoring systems and methods | 10,463,279
  • Method of enhancing interdigitation of bone cement to bone for attachment of prosthesis to bone during arthroplasty | 10,448,958



Dartmouth Engineering: Solid Mechanics

Graduate Student Research: Orthopedic Biomaterials

Graduate Student Research: Corrosion of Biomaterials

Graduate Student Research: Orthopedic Materials

Graduate Student Research: Orthopedic Implants

Graduate Student Research: Orthopedic Biomaterials

PhD Innovation Program: Steven Reinitz

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