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Successful Long-Term Fixation and Progression of Osteolysis Associated with First-Generation Cementless Acetabular Components Retrieved Post Mortem
Robert M. Urban1; Deborah J. Hall, BS1; Craig Della Valle, MD1; Markus A. Wimmer, PhD1; Joshua J. Jacobs, MD1; Jorge O. Galante, MD, DMSc1
1 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612
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Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois

Disclosure: One or more of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. In addition, one or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, one or more of the authors has had another relationship, or has engaged in another activity, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Oct 17;94(20):1877-1885. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.01507
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Primary cementless acetabular reconstruction has shown durable long-term fixation. Late failures secondary to aseptic loosening are rare but may occur in patients with previously well-fixed components. In the present study, the histopathological characteristics of postmortem specimens were correlated with wear damage and radiographic data in an attempt to better understand the long-term events in the periacetabular tissue around well-functioning devices.


Seventeen primary cementless Harris-Galante I acetabular components with adjacent tissues were harvested after a mean of eleven years (range, four to twenty-five years) from patients whose implants were well functioning at the time of death. Undecalcified and paraffin sections were used to quantify the extent of bone and soft tissues within the porous coating and at the interface between the coating and the surrounding bone. Wear particles were identified with use of polarized light microscopy and energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Bearing-surface volumetric wear and backside wear damage of the polyethylene liner were assessed.


All of the components were fixed by bone ingrowth (mean extent, 33% ± 21%). Particle-induced granulomas were present in the porous coating and along the interface and progressed through screw holes, ballooning into the retroacetabular bone in the longer-term specimens. Particles of femoral and acetabular origin were identified in the granulomas. Bearing-surface volumetric wear (mean, 41.6 mm3/year) increased with duration and correlated with increasing extent of granuloma in the porous coating and the increasing size of pelvic granulomas. Radiolucencies on radiographs correlated with the extent of bone and fibrous tissue ingrowth. Of the six pelvic granulomas that were identified histologically, only one was apparent on routine radiographs.


Acetabular fixation by bone ingrowth can be successful into the third decade after implantation. Osteolysis and secondary replacement of bone with particle-induced granuloma are commonly seen in the presence of excellent clinical function. Strategies designed to minimize bearing-surface wear and backside damage are important to maintain long-term bone ingrowth fixation.

Clinical Relevance: 

There remains a large patient population with clinically successful implants at potential risk of late failure secondary to progressive osteolysis.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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