Catastrophic failure of 4 cobalt-alloy Omnifit hip arthroplasty femoral components

L. Lam, Karl Stoffel, A. Kop, E. Swarts

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Background Femoral component neck fracture is an uncommon type of failure in total hip arthroplasty. We present a report on 4 retrieved cobalt-chrome femoral components that fractured at the neck, where we investigated the mechanisms of failure.Methods The 4 retrieved implants were analyzed with regard to their macro- and microstructures and the fracture surfaces were examined using electron microscopy. The medical record of each patient was also examined for any history of complications prior to failure of the implant.Results These fractures occurred immediately adjacent to the base of the modular head. Skirted modular heads were used in 3 of the 4 failed components. This constructs promotes corrosion. Cyclic fatigue-loading in combination with the material factors of course grain microstructure and extensive carbide precipitation along the grain boundaries were also identified as the cause of implant failure.Interpretation Our findings suggest that a solution annealing step could be introduced into the manufacturing process to improve the microstructure of the cobalt chrome alloy. We also advise caution in using a skirted modular head in combination with a device of known suboptimum microstructure, for a greater margin of safety.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-21
    JournalActa Orthopaedica
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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