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J Orthop Res. 1999 Jul;17(4):525-31.

Reduced bone stress as predicted by composite beam theory correlates with cortical bone loss following cemented total hip arthroplasty.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Clinical and experimental evidence suggest that periprosthetic bone loss following total hip arthroplasty is caused in part by stress-shielding. Changes in bone stress in the proximal femur following implantation can be estimated with use of composite beam theory. We hypothesized that the degree of stress-shielding predicted by beam theory correlates with the magnitude of bone loss following cemented total hip arthroplasty. We analyzed cross sections from the proximal femur of 13 patients who had undergone unilateral cemented total hip arthroplasty. A matching implant was inserted contralaterally, and the cross-sectional properties of the implant and bone and the bone density were determined. Bone loss was calculated on the basis of differences between contralateral (control) and ipsilateral (remodeled) sections and correlated to several beam-theory parameters calculated from the control sections: implant rigidity, bone rigidity, ratio of implant to bone rigidity, and predicted decrease in bone stress. All parameters except implant rigidity were significantly correlated with bone loss (p < 0.05). Parameters that included implant and bone properties were more strongly correlated with bone loss than were those based on bone properties alone. The predicted decrease in bone stress explained 50-60% of the variance in bone loss. The data also indicated that patients were not likely to lose substantial amounts of bone unless the reduction in bone stress exceeded a threshold value. Although limited by a small and heterogeneous sample, these results indicate that beam-theory predictions correlate with the degree of femoral resorption and should be investigated further as a means to identify patients at high risk for bone loss.

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