Modern Trunnions Are More Flexible: A Mechanical Analysis of THA Taper DesignsPorter, David, A., MD1; Urban, Robert, M., PhD2; Jacobs, Joshua, J., MD2; Gilbert, Jeremy, L., PhD3; Rodriguez, José, A., MD1; Cooper, John, H., MD1,a
Background There is renewed concern surrounding the potential for corrosion at the modular head-neck junction to cause early failure in contemporary THAs. Although taper corrosion involves a complex interplay of many factors, a previous study suggested that a decrease in flexural rigidity of the femoral trunnion may be associated with an increased likelihood of corrosion at retrieval.
Questions/purposes By analyzing a large revision retrieval database of femoral stems released during a span of three decades, we asked: (1) how much does flexural rigidity vary among different taper designs; (2) what is the contribution of taper geometry alone to flexural rigidity of the femoral trunnion; and (3) how have flexural rigidity and taper length changed with time in this group of revised retrievals?
Methods A dual-center retrieval analysis of 85 modular femoral stems released between 1983 and 2012 was performed, and the flexural rigidity and length of the femoral trunnions were determined. These stems were implanted between 1991 and 2012 and retrieved at revision or removal surgery between 2004 and 2012. There were 10 different taper designs made from five different metal alloys from 16 manufacturers. Digital calipers were used to measure taper geometries by two independent observers.
Results Median flexural rigidity was 228 N-m2; however, there was a wide range of values among the various stems spanning nearly an order of magnitude between the most flexible (80 N-m2) and most rigid (623 N-m2) trunnions, which was partly attributable to the taper geometry and to the material properties of the base alloy. There was a negative correlation between flexural rigidity and length of the trunnion and release date of the stem.
Conclusions There is wide variability in flexural rigidity of various taper designs, with a trend toward trunnions becoming shorter and less rigid with time.
Clinical Relevance This temporal trend may partly explain why taper corrosion is being seen with increasing frequency in modern THAs.