The long-term success of highly effective total hip arthroplasty (THA) is mainly restricted by aseptic loosening, which is widely associated with friction between the head and cup liner. However, knowledge of the in vivo joint friction and resulting temperature increase is limited. Employing a novel combination of in vivo and in silico technologies, we analyzed the hypothesis that the intraoperatively defined implant orientation defines the individual joint roofing, friction and its associated temperature increase. A total of 38,000 in vivo activity trials from a special group of 10 subjects with instrumented THA implants with an identical material combination were analyzed and showed a significant link between implant orientation, joint kinematics, joint roofing and friction-induced temperature increase but surprisingly not with acting joint contact force magnitude. This combined in vivo and in silico analysis revealed that cup placement in relation to the stem is key to the in vivo joint friction and heating-up of THA. Thus, intraoperative placement, and not only articulating materials, should be the focus of further improvements, especially for young and more active patients.
© 2021. The Author(s).