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Adverse Local Tissue Reaction Arising from Corrosion at the Femoral Neck-Body Junction in a Dual-Taper Stem with a Cobalt-Chromium Modular Neck
H. John Cooper, MD1; Robert M. Urban, PhD1; Richard L. Wixson, MD2; R. Michael Meneghini, MD3; Joshua J. Jacobs, MD1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1611 West Harrison Street, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60612. E-mail address for J.J. Jacobs: joshua.jacobs@rushortho.com
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 680 N. Lake Shore Drive, #924, Chicago, IL 60611
3 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, 541 Clinical Drive, Suite 600, Indianapolis, IN 46202
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Investigation performed at Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, and Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana

A commentary by Douglas E. Padgett, MD, and Timothy M. Wright, PhD, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.

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. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, 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 © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 May 15;95(10):865-872. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.01042
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Femoral stems with dual-taper modularity were introduced to allow additional options for hip-center restoration independent of femoral fixation in total hip arthroplasty. Despite the increasing availability and use of these femoral stems, concerns exist about potential complications arising from the modular neck-body junction.


This was a multicenter retrospective case series of twelve hips (eleven patients) with adverse local tissue reactions secondary to corrosion at the modular neck-body junction. The cohort included eight women and three men who together had an average age of 60.1 years (range, forty-three to seventy-seven years); all hips were implanted with a titanium-alloy stem and cobalt-chromium-alloy neck. Patients presented with new-onset and increasing pain at a mean of 7.9 months (range, five to thirteen months) following total hip arthroplasty. After serum metal-ion studies and metal artifact reduction sequence (MARS) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed abnormal results, the patients underwent hip revision at a mean of 15.2 months (range, ten to twenty-three months). Tissue specimens were examined by a single histopathologist, and the retrieved implants were studied with use of light and scanning electron microscopy.


Serum metal levels demonstrated greater elevation of cobalt (mean, 6.0 ng/mL) than chromium (mean, 0.6 ng/mL) or titanium (mean, 3.4 ng/mL). MRI with use of MARS demonstrated adverse tissue reactions in eight of nine patients in which it was performed. All hips showed large soft-tissue masses and surrounding tissue damage with visible corrosion at the modular femoral neck-body junction. Available histology demonstrated large areas of tissue necrosis in seven of ten cases, while remaining viable capsular tissue showed a dense lymphocytic infiltrate. Microscopic analysis was consistent with fretting and crevice corrosion at the modular neck-body interface.


Corrosion at the modular neck-body junction in dual-tapered stems with a modular cobalt-chromium-alloy femoral neck can lead to release of metal ions and debris resulting in local soft-tissue destruction. Adverse local tissue reaction should be considered as a potential cause for new-onset pain in patients with these components, and early revision should be considered given the potentially destructive nature of these reactions. A workup including serologic studies (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein), serum metal levels, and MARS MRI can be helpful in establishing this diagnosis.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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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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