Acta Orthopaedica, 85:4, 355-362, DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2014.922731

No association between serum metal ions and implant fixation in large-head metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasty

Mette Holm Hjorth, Kjeld Søballe, Stig Storgaard Jakobsen, Nina Dyrberg Lorenzen, Inger Mechlenburg & Maiken Stilling

Background — The mechanism of failure of metal-on-metal (MoM) total hip arthroplasty (THA) has been related to a high rate of metal wear debris, which is partly generated from the head-trunnion interface. However, it is not known whether implant fixation is affected by metal wear debris.

Patients and methods — 49 cases of MoM THA in 41 patients (10 women) with a mean age of 52 (28–68) years were followed with stereoradiographs after surgery and at 1, 2, and 5 years to analyze implant migration by radiostereometric analysis (RSA). Patients also participated in a 5- to 7-year follow-up with measurement of serum metal ions, questionnaires (Oxford hip score (OHS) and Harris hip score (HHS)), and measurement of cup and stem positions and systemic bone mineral density.

Results — At 1–2 years, mean total translation (TT) was 0.04 mm (95% CI: –0.07 to 0.14; p = 0.5) for the stems; at 2–5 years, mean TT was 0.13 mm (95% CI: –0.25 to –0.01; p = 0.03), but within the precision limit of the method. For the cups, there was no statistically significant TT or total rotation (TR) at 1–2 and 2–5 years. At 2–5 years, we found 4 cups and 5 stems with TT migrations exceeding the precision limit of the method. There was an association between cup migration and total OHS < 40 (4 patients, 4 hips; p = 0.04), but there were no statistically significant associations between cup or stem migration and T-scores < –1 (n = 10), cup and stem positions, or elevated serum metal ion levels (> 7µg/L (4 patients, 6 hips)).

Interpretation — Most cups and stems were well-fixed at 1–5 years. However, at 2–5 years, 4 cups and 5 stems had TT migrations above the precision limits, but these patients had serum metal ion levels similar to those of patients without measurable migrations, and they were pain-free. Patients with serum metal ion levels > 7 µg/L had migrations similar to those in patients with serum metal ion levels < 7 µg/L. Metal wear debris does not appear to influence the fixation of hip components in large-head MoM articulations at medium-term follow-up.

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