Metallosis after contemporary metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasty. Five to nine-year follow-up

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Jun;88(6):1183-91. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.D.02916.


Background: Authors of recent studies have reported early periprosthetic osteolysis in patients who have been treated with a contemporary metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasty and have suggested that metal hypersensitivity associated with an immunologic response to metal may be of etiologic importance. We evaluated the results and histologic findings in patients who had undergone revision of a failed contemporary metal-on-metal total hip arthroplasty.

Methods: Two hundred and seventeen total hip arthroplasties (SL-Plus stem and Bicon-Plus cup) with a Sikomet metal-on-metal articulation were implanted in 194 consecutive patients, and the results were retrospectively reviewed at a mean of seventy-seven months postoperatively. Clinical follow-up with the Harris hip score and plain radiographic evaluation were performed. Periprosthetic tissues from fourteen hips that had undergone revision arthroplasty were subjected to histologic analysis.

Results: The mean Harris hip score improved from 45 points preoperatively to 88 points at the final evaluation. Fourteen hips (6.5%) were revised: nine because of aseptic loosening, two because of technical failure, and three because of septic failure. Histologic examination of the retrieved periprosthetic tissues from the eleven patients who had undergone revision because of aseptic loosening or technical failure showed metallosis and extensive lymphocytic and plasma-cell infiltration around the metal debris. With removal of the component because of aseptic loosening as the end point, survivorship was 93% for the stem and 98% for the cup.

Conclusions: Our findings are in agreement with those in recent publications and support the possibility that periprosthetic osteolysis and aseptic loosening in hips with a metal-on-metal articulation are possibly associated with hypersensitivity to metal debris. Prospective, comparative, randomized long-term studies are necessary to determine the cause(s) of loosening of prostheses with this particular articulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Prosthesis*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Joint Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Joint Diseases / pathology
  • Joint Diseases / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niobium / adverse effects
  • Osteolysis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteolysis / etiology*
  • Osteolysis / pathology
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Prosthesis Failure
  • Radiography
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Titanium / adverse effects
  • Vitallium / adverse effects*


  • Niobium
  • Vitallium
  • Titanium