Zimmer Hip Replacement Components Corrode at Head-Neck Junction, Study Reveals

Patients with Zimmer Femoral Hip Implant Components Studied

A study of 1356 patients with Zimmer hip replacements (metal-on-polyethylene) revealed a worrisome number of premature failures due to cobalt metal corrosion at the head-neck taper junction.

Hip implant failures in patients suffering from pain, stiffness and/or limping and with elevated levels of Cobalt metal in their blood, a total of 15, were a studied closely. The authors discovered that each hip replacement device recovered at revision surgery had corrosion at the head-neck taper of the device and the patients suffered soft tissue injury due to the corrosion.

The hip replacement components studied were manufactured by Zimmer and were the Zimmer M/L Taper prosthesis and several models of the Zimmer Versys Metal Taper component. The authors found metal crevice corrosion in 1.1% of the Zimmer femoral components of the 1356 patients reviewed, and in 1.5% of patients with the Zimmer M/L Taper prosthesis.

Worrisome Failure Rate Due to Corrosion Found

The paper, published in The Journal of Arthroplasty, cited a recent report of a noticeable increase in hip revision surgeries due to adverse reactions to metal debris. The authors found the failure rate revealed in their study very worrisome because of the great number of hip replacements implanted and the apparently irreversible soft tissue damage that can occur due to adverse reactions to cobalt metal such as metallosis, tissue death, and pseudotumors.

To avoid complications due to corrosion at the head-neck junction (taper/trunnion), the authors suggested attaching ceramic femoral heads to titanium femoral stems, thereby avoiding use of cobalt-chromium components where possible.

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Source: McGrory, B., et al., A High Prevalence of Corrosion at the Head-Neck Taper with Contemporary Zimmer Non-Cemented Hip Components, The Journal of Arthroplasty 30 (2015) 1265-1268.