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J Arthroplasty. 2012 Aug;27(7):1389-1396.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2011.11.007. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Femoral stem fracture and in vivo corrosion of retrieved modular femoral hips.

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Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


A series of 78 retrieved modular hip devices were assessed for fretting and corrosion. Damage was common at both the head-neck junction (54% showing corrosion; 88% showing fretting) and at the stem-sleeve junction (88% corrosion; 65% fretting). Corrosion correlated to in vivo duration, patient activity, and metal (vs ceramic) femoral heads but did not correlate to head carbon content. Femoral stem fatigue fracture was observed in seven retrievals; all had severe corrosion, were under increased stress, and were in vivo longer than the non-fractured cohort. This study emphasizes the potential for stem fracture when small diameter femoral stems with large offsets are used in heavy and active patients. Designs which reduce fretting and corrosion in modular implants is warranted as patients demand longer lasting implants.

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