Mechanically assisted corrosion (MAC) of metallic orthopedic alloys is a consequence of the use of modular devices where opposing metal surfaces are tightly mated and loaded at the taper junction. MAC processes are affected by material surface characteristics and local solution chemistry. During inflammation, active immune cells may generate reactive oxygen species (such as hypochlorous acid [HOCl]) adjacent to surfaces undergoing micromotion, which may affect the tribocorrosion behavior of an implanted device. This study investigated the fretting current response of CoCrMo/Ti-6Al-4 V couples in a pin-on-disk apparatus utilizing HOCl solutions as a proxy for a severe inflammatory environment. Testing in 1 and 5 mM HOCl solutions were shown to generate a threefold and fivefold increase (p < 0.01), respectively, in fretting currents over pH 7.4 phosphate-buffered saline control conditions. Fretting currents were shown to be dependent on the energy dissipated during fretting and the concentration of HOCl where the currents within a single HOCl concentration were linearly dependent of energy dissipated, but different HOCl levels shifted (increased and then decreased) fretting currents with concentration. Fretting currents, governed by regrowth of an abraded oxide film, were affected by the oxidative power of the solution, which caused positive shifts in open circuit potential and likely resulted in a thicker oxide for 1 mM and 5 mM and fell with 30 mM. Small amounts of HOCl release within a joint may result in increased release of tribocorrosion products such as oxide particles.
Keywords: arthroplasty; inflammation; metal-on-metal devices; total joint; tribocorrosion.
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