Clinical experience with metal-on-metal total joint replacements: indications and results

I D Learmonth, S Gheduzzi, T P Vail

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17 Citations (SciVal)


Survivorship of total joint arthroplasty depends on the durability of fixation and durability of articulation. The metal-on-polyethylene articular couple has been the most widely used. Polyethylene wear (and the associated cytochemical events that culminate in osteolysis) has been identified as a major factor adversely influencing the durability of joint replacement. This stimulated the orthopaedic community to explore the possibility of using alternative bearings with lower wear rates. Hard-on-hard bearings have been shown to be associated with reduced wear. Metal-on-metal bearings have wear rates that are 20-100 times lower than metal on conventional polyethylene. However, patients with metal-on-metal articulations have increased levels of cobalt and chromium in the serum and urine, and this has raised concerns about toxicity, mutagenesis, and hypersensitivity. At this stage there is no epidemiological evidence to suggest that the risk of carcinogenesis is anything more than theoretical. Successful long-term results have been reported with the cast cobalt-chromium metal-on-metal couples of the mid-1960s. Tissues retrieved at revision of these implants did not show the giant-cell inflammatory response associated with polyethylene particles. Several researchers have reported excellent mid-term results with the current generation of high-precision metal-on-metal bearings
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H - Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue numberH2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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