Modes of Implant Failure After Hip Resurfacing: Morphological and Wear Analysis of 267 Retrieval Specimens
Michael M. Morlock, PhD; Nick Bishop, Dipl-Ing; Jozef Zustin, MD; Michael Hahn, Dipl-Ing; Wolfgang Rüther, MD; Michael Amling, MD


Background: Resurfacing of the hip joint is experiencing a revival due to improvements in materials, design, and manufacturing techniques. Despite good midterm outcomes, the high early rate of failure and concerns about metal debris require a detailed morphological and wear analysis of retrieved resurfacing implants in order to understand failure mechanisms.

Methods: A worldwide collection of hip resurfacing revision devices was initiated, and 267 components were received. Devices were analyzed by patient demographics, radiographic positioning, and wear, as well as morphologically and histologically. Specimens were grouped into four different failure types. They were also stratified into rim-loaded or non-rim-loaded groups. Failures were also assessed by surgeon learning-curve effects.

Results: Time to failure was significantly different between the four revision-type groups: Specimens with fractures involving the implant rim were most common (46%) and failed earliest after surgery (mean of ninety-nine days), followed by fractures inside the femoral head (20%, 262 days) and loose cups (9%, 423 days). Revisions not due to fractures or cup loosening (25%) occurred at a mean of 722 days after surgery. Rim-loaded implants exhibited an average twenty-one to twenty-sevenfold higher wear rate than implants without rim-loading. Rim-loaded implants also showed a steeper mean cup inclination than their non-rim-loaded counterparts (59° compared with 50°). Most failures occurred during the learning curve of the surgeon (the first fifty to 100 implantations).

Conclusions: Failures on the femoral side usually occur within the first nine months after surgery and appear to be most directly related to the implantation technique or patient selection. Later failures are observed mainly due to acetabular problems, either due to dramatically increased wear or poor cup anchorage. Improper cup anteversion may be similar to or more important than cup inclination in producing excessive wear.

Clinical Relevance: Femoral neck fractures are the main reason for early hip resurfacing failure. Insufficient cup fixation and positioning can cause later failure and thus, patients at risk of increased wear should be carefully monitored in order to prevent excessive exposure to metal ions. Appropriate education is required to reduce the length of the surgeon learning curve.


  • Disclosure: In support of their research for or preparation of this work, one or more of the authors received, in any one year, outside funding or grants of less than $10,000 from DePuy, Zimmer, Smith and Nephew, Biomet, and Corin. 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. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.

Enter your JBJS login information below.
Please note that your username is the email address you provided when you registered.

List of OpenAthens registered sites, including contact details.