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J Arthroplasty. 2017 May;32(5):1679-1683. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2016.12.024. Epub 2016 Dec 22.

Fretting and Corrosion Between a Metal Shell and Metal Liner May Explain the High Rate of Failure of R3 Modular Metal-on-Metal Hips.

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Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, University College London, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, United Kingdom.



The R3 acetabular system used with its metal liner has higher revision rates when compared to its ceramic and polyethylene liner. In June 2012, the medical and healthcare products regulatory agency issued an alert regarding the metal liner of the R3 acetabular system.


Six retrieved R3 acetabular systems with metal liners underwent detailed visual analysis using macroscopic and microscopic techniques.


Visual analysis discovered corrosion on the backside of the metal liners. There was a distinct border to the areas of corrosion that conformed to antirotation tab insertions on the inner surface of the acetabular shell, which are for the polyethylene liner. Scanning electron microscopy indicated evidence of crevice corrosion, and energy-dispersive X-ray analysis confirmed corrosion debris rich in titanium.


The high failure rate of the metal liner option of the R3 acetabular system may be attributed to corrosion on the backside of the liner which appear to result from geometry and design characteristics of the acetabular shell.


corrosion; metal liner; modular cup; taper; total hip arthroplasty

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