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Corrosion between the components of modular femoral hip prostheses

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We studied the tapered interface between the head and the neck of 139 modular femoral components of hip prostheses which had been removed for a variety of reasons. In 91 the same alloy had been used for the head and the stem; none of them showed evidence of corrosion. In contrast, there was definite corrosion in 25 of the 48 prostheses in which the stem was of titanium alloy and the head of cobalt-chrome. This corrosion was time-dependent: no specimens were corroded after less than nine months in the body, but all which had been in place for more than 40 months were damaged. We discuss the factors which may influence the rate of these changes and present evidence that they were due to galvanically-accelerated crevice corrosion, which was undetected in previous laboratory testing of this type of prosthesis.

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