Early Polyethylene Failure in a Modern Total Hip Prosthesis: A Note of Caution

J Arthroplasty. 2020 May;35(5):1297-1302. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2019.12.043. Epub 2020 Jan 3.


Background: Historically, there has been excellent survivorship of total hip arthroplasty with newer implants expected to outperform prior generations. Review of our institutional database identified problems with one particular cross-linked polyethylene liner in mid-term follow-up, which has not been reported in the literature. We report on the technical aspects of this liner, as well as the clinical and radiographic factors associated with early failure of this bearing in our practice.

Methods: A retrospective review of our institutional database was performed from January 2009 to June 2019 of patients who presented with significant osteolysis in the setting of prior total hip arthroplasty with a contemporary polyethylene liner. Demographic and radiographic measures were collected for all patients.

Results: Twelve patients were identified, with nine undergoing revision surgery. All patients demonstrated radiographic osteolysis at the time of revision surgery. The average time to diagnosis of failure was 55.9 months (range: 12-120 months). Average cup position preoperatively was 44 degrees inclination (range: 36-53 degrees) and 21 degrees anteversion (range: 10-34 degrees). Nine patients underwent revision of the acetabular component, with two also undergoing femoral component revision. The Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database revealed 22 reported cases of wear-related failure from 2009 to 2019.

Conclusions: Considering that no identifiable risk factors related to patient demographics or implant position were identified, the Exactech Connexion GXL liner may be prone to a high rate of early failure from wear and severe secondary osteolysis. We recommend close surveillance of patients with this bearing surface.

Keywords: Exactech GXL; cross-linked polyethylene; mid-term failure; osteolysis; polyethylene wear.

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip* / adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hip Prosthesis* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Osteolysis* / epidemiology
  • Osteolysis* / etiology
  • Osteolysis* / surgery
  • Polyethylene
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Prosthesis Failure
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Polyethylene