A number of recent reports have described novel failure mechanisms of metal-on-metal bearings in total and resurfacing hip arthroplasty. Hip arthroplasties with metal-on-metal articulations are also subject to the traditional methods of failure seen with different bearing couples. There is currently little information in the literature to help guide timely clinical evaluation and management of these patients.
We therefore describe the (1) clinical presentations; (2) reasons for failure; (3) operative findings; and (4) histologic findings in patients with failed metal-on-metal hip arthroplasties.
We retrospectively identified all 37 patients (37 hips) with metal on metal total hip or resurfacing arthroplasties who underwent revision over the past 3 years at our institution. Relevant clinical, radiographic, laboratory, intraoperative, and histopathologic findings were analyzed for all patients.
Of the 37 patients, 10 were revised for presumed hypersensitivity specific to the metal-on-metal articulation. This group included eight patients with tissue histology confirming chronic inflammation with lymphocytic infiltration, eight with aseptic loosening of a monoblock screwless uncemented acetabular component, two with iliopsoas impingement associated with a large-diameter femoral head, and three with femoral neck fracture after resurfacing arthroplasty; the remainder of the patients were revised for infection, instability, component malposition, and periprosthetic fracture.
Increased awareness of the modes of failure will bring to light the potential complications particular to metal-on-metal articulations while placing these complications into the context of failures associated with all hip arthroplasties. This novel clinical information should be valuable for the practicing surgeon faced with this patient population.
Level of Evidence
Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.