Scientific Articles   |    
Postmortem Study of Femoral Osteolysis Associated with Metal-on-Metal Articulation in Total Hip ReplacementAn Analysis of Nine Cases
Monika Huber, MD1; Georg Reinisch, PhD2; Peter Zenz, MD1; Karl Zweymüller, MD3; Felix Lintner, MD1
1 Institute of Pathology and Bacteriology (M.H. and F.L.) and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (P.Z.), SMZ Otto Wagner Spital, Baumgartner Hoehe 1, 1145 Vienna, Austria. E-mail address for M. Huber: Monika.Huber@wienkav.at
2 Biomechanische Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, Rechte Wienzeile, 1040 Vienna, Austria
3 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Gersthof, Wielemansgasse 28, 1180 Vienna, Austria
View Disclosures and Other Information
Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity.

Investigation performed at the Institute of Pathology and Bacteriology, SMZ Otto Wagner Spital, Vienna, Austria

Copyright ©2010 American Society for Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2010 Jul 21;92(8):1720-1731. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.I.00695
5 Recommendations (Recommend) | 3 Comments | Saved by 3 Users Save Case



Improved metal-on-metal articulations were reintroduced in total hip replacement to avoid the osteolysis sometimes seen with conventional ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene bearings. Osteolysis and local lymphocytic infiltration have been reported at revision of some metal-on-metal devices. We report similar and additional results in a study of second-generation metal-on-metal hip implants retrieved post mortem.


Components and surrounding tissues were collected post mortem from seven patients with nine total hip replacements (Zweymüller SL stem with an Alloclassic cup) with Metasul metal-on-metal articulations. All available patient information was recorded. Radiographs of the hips were evaluated for osteolysis. Sections of joint capsule as well as of the femoral implant with surrounding bone were reviewed, and energy-dispersive x-ray analysis was used to evaluate the composition of wear products. The amount of wear was measured for each component (nine femoral heads and eight cup inserts), when possible, by a coordinate measurement machine with use of the dimensional method.


The patients died between three and ten years after arthroplasty, and six of the seven were asymptomatic at the time of death. One patient, with the highest rate of total wear (i.e., wear of femoral head and acetabular cup; 7.6 µm/yr), had increasing hip pain for one year, and histological analysis confirmed the radiographic findings of osteolysis. For two other patients, histological analysis confirmed the radiographic findings of asymptomatic osteolysis. For three patients, histological analysis revealed osteolysis that had escaped conventional radiographic analysis. Joint capsule tissue showed evidence of metallosis in all hips and local lymphocytic infiltration in eight hips. Energy-dispersive x-ray analysis revealed elements attributable to CoCrMo alloy in all hips and traces of corrosion products in three hips.


The postmortem findings of osteolysis and/or lymphocytic infiltration associated with eight clinically well-functioning, low wear devices (a total wear rate of <4 µm/yr) suggest there may be frequent, unappreciated femoral bone loss and local immunological response in patients with second-generation metal-on-metal hip implants. Compared with previous postmortem studies, our findings showed the extent of osteolysis was similar to that with metal-on-polyethylene articulations.

Figures in this Article
    Sign In to Your Personal ProfileSign In To Access Full Content
    Not a Subscriber?
    Get online access for 30 days for $35
    New to JBJS?
    Sign up for a full subscription to both the print and online editions
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities, to comment on public articles, or to sign up for alerts.
    Register for a FREE limited account to get full access to all CME activities
    Have a subscription to the print edition?
    Current subscribers to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in either the print or quarterly DVD formats receive free online access to JBJS.org.
    Forgot your password?
    Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.

    Forgot your username or need assistance? Please contact customer service at subs@jbjs.org. If your access is provided
    by your institution, please contact you librarian or administrator for username and password information. Institutional
    administrators, to reset your institution's master username or password, please contact subs@jbjs.org


    Accreditation Statement
    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.
    CME Activities Associated with This Article
    Submit a Comment
    Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
    Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discretion of JBJS editorial staff.

    * = Required Field
    (if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
    Example: John Doe

    Related Content
    The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery
    JBJS Case Connector
    Topic Collections
    Related Audio and Videos
    PubMed Articles
    Clinical Trials
    Readers of This Also Read...
    JBJS Jobs
    OK - The University of Oklahoma
    VA - OrthoVirginia
    DC - Children's National Medical Center
    LA - Ochsner Health System