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Total hip arthroplasty following failure of core decompression and tantalum rod implantation

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One method of femoral head preservation following avascular necrosis (AVN) is core decompression and insertion of a tantalum rod. However, there may be a high failure rate associated with this procedure. The purpose of this study was to document the clinical and radiological outcomes following total hip arthroplasty (THA) subsequent to failed tantalum rod insertion.

Patients and Methods

A total of 37 failed tantalum rods requiring total hip arthroplasty were identified from a prospective database. There were 21 hips in 21 patients (12 men and nine women, mean age 37 years, 18 to 53) meeting minimum two year clinical and radiographic follow-up whose THAs were carried out between November 2002 and April 2013 (mean time between tantalum rod implantation and conversion to a THA was 26 months, 6 to 72). These were matched by age and gender to individuals (12 men, nine women, mean age 40 years, 18 to 58) receiving THA for AVN without prior tantalum rod insertion.


There were no functional outcome differences between the two groups. Tantalum residue was identified on all post-operative radiographs in the tantalum group. Linear wear rates were comparable between groups with no evidence of catastrophic wear in either group.


In the short term, tantalum rod implantation does not demonstrate an adverse effect on subsequent total joint replacement surgery. There is however, a high rate of retained tantalum debris on post-operative radiographs and thus there is an unknown risk of accelerated articular wear necessitating longer term study.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:1175–9.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr M. Olsen; e-mail:

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