Acetabular fixation in total hip arthroplasty in the previously irradiated pelvis: a review of basic science and clinical outcomes

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2022 Aug 19. doi: 10.1007/s00402-022-04589-w. Online ahead of print.


Radiation therapy is a common primary, adjuvant, or palliative treatment for many intrapelvic tumors, including primary gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and hematopoietic tumors, as well as metastatic disease to bone. Radiation has well documented microbiologic and clinical effects on bone ranging from radiation osteitis to early degenerative changes of the hip joint and avascular necrosis of the femoral head. Conventional total hip arthroplasty methods have demonstrated high rates of failure in this population, with historical data describing aseptic loosening rates as high as 44-52%, as radiation have been shown to preferentially diminish osteoblast and osteocyte number and function and limit capacity for both cement interdigitation and biologic bony ingrowth. A review of the clinical literature suggests that patients with prior pelvic irradiation are at higher risk for both septic and aseptic loosening of acetabular components, as well as lower postoperative Harris Hip Score (HHS) when compared to historical controls. With limited evidence, trabecular metal shells with multi-screw fixation and cemented polyethene liners, as well as cemented cup-cage constructs both appear to be durable acetabular fixation options, though the indications for each remains elusive. Further prospective data are needed to better characterize this difficult clinical problem.

Keywords: Acetabulum; THA; Total hip arthroplasty; Tumor.

Publication types

  • Review