Subsidence of THA stems due to acrylic cement creep is extremely sensitive to interface friction

N.J.J. Verdonschot, H.W.J. Huiskes

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Acrylic cement, used to fixate total hip arthroplasty (THA), creeps under dynamic and static loading conditions. As a result, THA stems which are debonded from the cement, may gradually subside, depending on their shape and surface roughness. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship among dynamic load, creep characteristics, interface friction, and subsidence patterns. A laboratory model consisting of a metal tapered cone, surrounded by a cement mantle, was developed. The cone was gradually compressed in the cement by a dynamic, sinusoidal axial force, cycling between 0 and 7 kN for 1.7 million cycles at a frequency of 1 Hz. Subsidence and cement strain were monitored. Two tapers were tested in this way. The relationships among subsidence, creep properties and interface friction were evaluated from a finite element (FE) model, used to simulate the experiments. In this model, the creep properties obtained in dynamic and static, tension and compression experiments measured earlier, were used. The subsidence patterns of both tapers were similar, but one subsided more than the other (380 vs 630 mu m). Both subsided stepwise instead of continuous, with a frequency much smaller than that of the applied load. The characteristics of the subsidence and cement-strain patterns could be reproduced by the FE model, but not with great numerical precision. The stepwise subsidence could be explained by slip-stick mechanisms at the interface starting distally and gradually working towards proximal. Variations in friction from 0.25 to 0.50 reduced the total subsidence and the step frequency by about 50%. It was concluded that FE-models used to simulate the mechanical endurance characteristics of THA reconstructions, extended to incorporate cement creep, produce realistic results. These results showed that prosthetic subsidence under dynamic loads occurs due to cement creep. The extent of the subsidence is extremely sensitive to interface friction, hence to small variations in surface roughness and cement constitution. This may explain the relatively large variation of in vivo prosthetic subsidence rates reported in the literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1575
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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