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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2011 Dec;93(12):1602-9. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.93B12.27533.

What advantage is there to be gained using large modular metal-on-metal bearings in routine primary hip replacement? A preliminary report of a prospective randomised controlled trial.

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Wansbeck General Hospital, Northumbria NHS Trust, Woodhorne Lane, Ashington NE63 9JJ, UK.


The aim of this study was to investigate the possible benefit of large-head metal-on-metal bearing on a stem for primary hip replacement compared with a 28 mm diameter conventional metal-on-polyethylene bearing in a prospective randomised controlled trial. We investigated cemented stem behaviour between these two different bearings using Einzel-Bild-Röntgen-Analyse, clinical and patient reported measures (Harris hip score, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index, Short Form-36 and satisfaction) and whole blood metal ion levels at two years. A power study indicated that 50 hips were needed in each group to detect subsidence of > 5 mm at two years with a p-value of < 0.05. Significant improvement (p < 0.001) was found in the mean clinical and patient reported outcomes at two years for both groups. Comparison of outcomes between the groups at two years showed no statistically significant difference for mean stem migration, clinical and patient reported outcomes; except overall patient satisfaction which was higher for metal-on-metal group (p = 0.05). Metal ion levels were raised above the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency advised safety level (7 µg per litre) in 20% of the metal-on-metal group and in one patient in metal-on-polyethylene group (who had a metal-on-metal implant on the contralateral side). Two patients in the metal-on-metal group were revised, one for pseudotumour and one for peri-prosthetic fracture. Use of large modular heads is associated with a risk of raised whole blood metal ion levels despite using a proven bearing from resurfacing. The head-neck junction or excess stem micromotion are possibly the weak links warranting further research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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