Concerns With Modularity in Total Hip Arthroplasty

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Modularity is being diversified in total hip prostheses to increase surgical latitude in optimizing implant fixation and adjusting hip biomechanics. However, several problems have been clearly identified with implant modularity. First generation metal-backed acetabular components have shown deficiencies in the locking mechanism, the congruency and extent of polyethylene liner support, and polyethylene thickness, all of which have been implicated in accelerated polyethylene wear and failure. Evidence of screw motion against the metal backing, release of particulate material, and focal osteolysis have also been observed. At the head/neck junction evidence of corrosion and fretting has been documented with both similar-metal and mixed-metal taper combinations. Femoral prostheses with other sites of modularity present additional concerns with regard to mechanical integrity and generation of particulate debris by fretting. The modular junctions of three hip prostheses, the S-ROM, Infinity, and RMHS, were subjected to wet environment high cycle mechanical testing in a worst-case loading scenario. Preliminary results at relatively low loads up to three times body weight indicated gross stability of the modular junctions with evidence of minor fretting damage. Analysis of water solutions surrounding the modular junctions after ten to 20 million loading cycles yielded counts of one to three micron sized particles totalling several hundred thousand

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