Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: February 2016 - Volume 474 - Issue 2 - p 432–440 doi: 10.1007/s11999-015-4539-8 Symposium: 2015 Hip Society Proceedings FREE

Adverse Reactions to Metal on Metal Are Not Exclusive to Large Heads in Total Hip Arthroplasty

Lombardi, Adolph, V., Jr, MD1,2,3,4,a; Berend, Keith, R., MD1,2,3; Adams, Joanne, B., BFA1; Satterwhite, Keri, L.1

Background There is some suggestion that smaller diameter heads in metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasty (MoM THA) may be less prone to the adverse reactions to metal debris (ARMD) seen with large-diameter heads.


Questions/purposes We reviewed our population of patients with small head (≤ 32 mm) MoM THA to determine (1) the frequency of ARMD; (2) potential risk factors for ARMD in this population; and (3) the etiology of revision and Kaplan-Meier survivorship with revision for all causes.


Methods Small-diameter head MoM devices were used in 9% (347 of 3753) of primary THAs during the study period (January 1996 to March 2005). We generally used these implants in younger, more active, higher-demand patients. Three hundred hips (258 patients) had MoM THA using a titanium modular acetabular component with a cobalt-chromium tapered insert and were available for review with minimum 2-year followup (mean, 10 years; range, 2-19 years). Complete followup was available in 86% of hips (300 of 347). Clinical records and radiographs were reviewed to determine the frequency and etiology of revision. Kaplan-Meier survivorship analysis was performed.


Results ARMD frequency was 5% (14 of 300 hips) and represented 70% (14 of 20) of revisions performed. Using multivariate analysis, no variable tested, including height, weight, body mass index, age, cup diameter, cup angle, use of screws, stem diameter, stem type, head diameter, preoperative clinical score, diagnosis, activity level, or sex, was significant as a risk factor for revision. Twenty hips have been revised: two for infection, four for aseptic loosening, and 14 for ARMD. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed survival free of component revision for all causes was 95% at 10 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 91%-97%), 92% at 15 years (95% CI, 87%-95%), and 72% at 19 years (95% CI, 43%-90%), and survival free of component revision for aseptic causes was 96% at 10 years (95% CI, 92%-98%), 92% at 15 years (95% CI, 88%-95%), and 73% at 19 years (95% CI, 43%-90%).


Conclusions The late onset and devastating nature of metal-related failures is concerning with this small-diameter MoM device. Although the liner is modular, it cannot be exchanged and full acetabular revision is required. Patients with all MoM THA devices should be encouraged to return for clinical and radiographic followup, and clinicians should maintain a low threshold to perform a systematic evaluation. Symptomatic patients should undergo thorough investigation and vigilant observation for ARMD.


Level of Evidence Level IV, therapeutic study.

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