Investigation of Taper Failure in a Contemporary Metal-on-Metal Hip Arthroplasty System Through Examination of Unused and Explanted Prostheses

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Background:Large-diameter (≥36-mm) metal-on-metal (MoM) total hip replacements have been shown to fail at an unacceptably high rate. Globally, the DePuy Pinnacle prosthesis was the most widely used device of this type. There is evidence to suggest that one of the main reasons for the poor clinical performance of large-diameter MoM prostheses is the metal debris released from the head-stem taper junction—i.e., taper junction failure. The aim of this study was to investigate variation in the as-manufactured finish of the female taper surface and to determine its influence on material loss. We hypothesized that rougher surfaces with higher relative material peaks would be significantly associated with greater taper wear rates.Methods:We analyzed 93 Articul/eze femoral head tapers with a 36-mm bearing diameter that had been used in combination with a Corail titanium uncemented stem. The influence of the surface topography of the as-manufactured female taper surface on taper wear was examined by means of a multiple regression model, taking into account other known variables.Results:We identified great variation in the as-manufactured surface finish of the female taper surface, with a range of measured Ra values from 0.14 to 4.20 μm. The roughness of the female taper surface appeared to be the most important variable associated with taper wear (p < 0.001). The best-fitting regression model, including duration in vivo, head offset, reduced peak height (Rpk) value, stem shaft angle, and bearing surface wear rate, explained approximately 44% of the variation in taper wear rates.Conclusions:We concluded that the roughness of the female taper surface appears to be a significant factor in metal debris release from head-stem taper junctions.Clinical Relevance:This study shows evidence that previously unappreciated variations in manufacturing processes may have a major impact on the clinical outcomes of patients.

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