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British Orthopaedic Research Society (BORS)


Wear debris induced osteolysis is a recognized complication in conventional metal-on-polyethylene hip arthroplasty. One method of achieving wear reduction is through the use of metal-on-metal articulations. One of the latest manifestations of this biomaterial combination is in designs of hip resurfacing which are aimed at younger, more active patients. But, do these metal-on-metal hip resurfacings show low wear when implanted into patients?

Using a Mitutoyo Legex 322 co-ordinate measuring machine (scanning accuracy less than 1 micron) and a bespoke computer program, volumetric wear measurements for retrieved Articular Surface Replacements (ASR, DePuy) metal-on-metal hip resurfacings were undertaken. Measurements were validated against gravimetric calculations for volumetric wear using a sample femoral head that was artificially worn in vitro. At 5mm3, 10mm3, and 15mm3 of material removal, the method was shown to be accurate to within 0.5mm3.

Thirty-two femoral heads and twenty-two acetabular cups were measured. Acetabular cups exhibited mean volumetric wear of 29.00mm3 (range 1.35 - 109.72mm3) and a wear rate of 11.02mm3/year (range 0.30 - 63.59mm3/year). Femoral heads exhibited mean wear of 22.41mm3 (range 0.72 - 134.22mm3) and a wear rate of 8.72mm3/year (range 0.21 - 31.91mm3/year). In the 22 cases where both head and cup from the same prosthesis were available, mean total wear rates of 21.66mm3/year (range 0.51 - 95.50mm3/year) were observed.

Revision was necessitated by one of five effects; early femoral neck fracture (4 heads), avascular necrosis (AVN) (2 heads, 1 cup), infection (1 head, 1 cup), adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD) (19 heads, 18 cups) or ARMD fracture (6 heads, 2 cups). Mean paired wear rates for the AVN and infection retrievals were 0.51mm3/year and 3.98mm3/year respectively. In vitro tests typically offer wear rates for metal-on-metal devices in the region of 2-4mm3.

Mean paired wear rates for ARMD and ARMD fracture were 17.64mm3/year and 68.5mm3/year respectively, significantly greater than those expected from in vitro tests. In the 4 cases of early fracture, only the heads were revised so a combined wear rate calculation was not possible. The heads exhibited mean wear rate of 8.26mm3/year. These high wear rates are of concern.