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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2010 Feb;468(2):497-503. doi: 10.1007/s11999-009-1034-0. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

Does femoral component loosening predispose to femoral fracture?: an in vitro comparison of cemented hips.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 980153, Richmond, VA 23298-0153, USA.


The incidence of femur fracture around total hip arthroplasties continues to increase at substantial cost to society. These fractures are frequently associated with a loose femoral component. Consequently, we sought to test whether femoral component loosening predisposes to periprosthetic femoral fracture. Because many periprosthetic femoral fractures are spiral in nature, we evaluated the torsional characteristics of the implanted femur in which the only design variable was instability of the femoral component. We used synthetic (polyurethane) (n = 15) and paired cadaveric femora (n = 10) with specimens divided into two groups: well-fixed and loose cemented stems. Each specimen was tested mechanically in internal rotation until failure. For the synthetic specimens, torque to failure was reduced by 38%, whereas stiffness was decreased 54% for the loose group compared with the well-fixed group. For the cadaveric specimens, torque to failure was reduced by 58%, whereas stiffness decreased 70% for the loose group compared with the well-fixed group. Fracture patterns were similar between synthetic and cadaveric femora with a proximal spiral pattern in loose specimens and more distal fracture patterns with well-fixed stems. Based on our data, patients with loosened femoral components are at risk for fracture at a substantially lower torque than those with well-fixed components.

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