The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 32, Issue 9, 2887 - 2891

Fretting and Corrosion Damage in Taper Adapter Sleeves for Ceramic Heads: A Retrieval Study

MacDonald, Daniel W. et al.
Hip

Background

During revision surgery with a well-fixed stem, a titanium sleeve can be used in conjunction with a ceramic head to achieve better stress distribution across the taper surface. In vitro testing suggests that corrosion is not a concern in sleeved ceramic heads; however, little is known about the in vivo fretting corrosion of the sleeves. The purpose of this study was to investigate fretting corrosion in sleeved ceramic heads in retrieved total hip arthroplasties.

Methods

Thirty-seven sleeved ceramic heads were collected during revision. The femoral heads and sleeves were implanted 0.0-3.3 years. The implants were revised predominantly for instability, infection, and loosening. Fifty percent of the retrievals were implanted during a primary surgery. Fretting corrosion was assessed using the Goldberg-Higgs semiquantitative scoring system.

Results

Mild-to-moderate fretting corrosion scores (score = 2-3) were observed in 92% of internal tapers, 19% of external tapers, and 78% of the stems. Severe fretting corrosion was observed in 1 stem trunnion that was previously retained during revision surgery and none of the retrieved sleeves. There was no difference in corrosion damage of sleeves used in primary or revision surgery.

Conclusion

The fretting corrosion scores in this study were predominantly mild and lower than reported fretting scores of cobalt-chrome heads in metal-on-polyethylene bearings. Although intended for use in revisions, we found that the short-term in vivo corrosion behavior of the sleeves was similar in both primary and revision surgery applications. From an in vivo corrosion perspective, sleeves are a reasonable solution for restoring the stem taper during revision surgery.


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