Background: Fracture of the femoral stem in total hip arthroplasty (THA) is a rare complication. We have encountered 2 cases of neck fractures of the femoral stem occurring 9 and 12 years after THA. Morphological and biomechanical analysis were performed to investigate the mechanism of these fractures. Method: A titanium alloy femoral stem having a slot with sharp corners (R = 0.2 mm) at the neck had been implanted in both cases. Fracture surfaces were examined by use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Stress concentration was simulated by using a finite element method (FEM) to compare slots with sharp (R = 0.2 mm) and smooth (R = 2 mm) corners. Results: Study of the retrieved stems revealed that neck fractures had occurred at the distal end of the slot in both cases. SEM revealed numerous fine fissures extending from the anterolateral edge, striations on the middle of the fracture surface, and dimples on the posteromedial surface, suggesting that the fractures had occurred from the anterolateral aspect toward the posteromedial aspect because of metallic fatigue. FEM analysis showed that mechanical stress was concentrated at the distal and anterolateral corners of the slot. Under 3500-N loading force, the stress at the sharp corner was 556 MPa, which was approximately twofold that at the smooth corner and exceeded the fatigue strength of titanium alloy. Conclusion: These findings showed that the sharp corner of slot increased stress concentrations at the anterolateral aspect and led to the neck fractures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine