New Insights into Osteointegration and Delamination from a Multidisciplinary Investigation of a Failed Hydroxyapatite-Coated Hip Joint Replacement

Materials (Basel). 2020 Oct 22;13(21):4713. doi: 10.3390/ma13214713.


Hydroxyapatite (HA) coatings have become very popular in uncemented total hip arthroplasty (THA). Analysis of retrievals and tissue samples from an HA-coated femoral stem, which failed within 14 months after THA, provides exceptional insights into the failure mechanism, as well as the process of osteointegration of such an implant.

Methods: Retrievals were photo-documented. Samples were examined by micro-computed tomography, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and embedded in polymethylmethacrylate for histology.

Results: The coating had partially delaminated. The sandblasted surface of the stem was partially polished by the delaminated HA coating, indicating failure before revision. In the tissue samples, the HA coating was well integrated by newly formed bone trabeculae. No adverse biological reaction was observed. XRD analysis showed that residues of the HA coating were still present and could clearly be differentiated from the surrounding bone. Preferential orientation of the HA crystallites could be identified within the newly formed bone, representing a potential mechanical weakness induced either by physiologic strain or by the coating.

Conclusion: current HA coatings, relatively thick and made of high crystallinity HA, may be prone to delamination, as also seen in our study. Recent efforts have aimed towards thinner (<1 μm) coatings with nanocrystalline HA structures that possibly relate to lower delamination risks. However, the question arises if HA coatings are beneficial since sandblasted non-coated stems offer similar results without the risk of delamination. XRD not only permits differentiation between the HA from the coating and the HA of the ongrown bone, it also provides new insights into the microstructure of this newly formed bone.

Keywords: XRD; arthroplasty; coating; delamination; histology; hydroxyapatite.