Does diametrical clearance influence the wear of Pinnacle hip implants?

Sean Bergiers, Harry Hothi, Johann Henckel, Antti Eskelinen, John Skinner, Alister Hart

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Aims: The optimum clearance between the bearing surfaces of hip arthroplasties is unknown. Theoretically, to minimize wear, it is understood that clearances must be low enough to maintain optimal contact pressure and fluid film lubrication, while being large enough to allow lubricant recovery and reduce contact patch size. This study aimed to identify the relationship between diametrical clearance and volumetric wear, through the analysis of retrieved components.

Methods: A total of 81 metal-on-metal Pinnacle hips paired with 12/14 stems were included in this study. Geometrical analysis was performed on each component, using coordinate and roundness measuring machines. The relationship between their as-manufactured diametrical clearance and volumetric wear was investigated. The Mann-Whitney U test and unpaired t-test were used, in addition to calculating the non-parametric Spearman's correlation coefficient, to statistically evaluate the acquired data.

Results: The hips in this study were found to have had a median unworn diametrical clearance of 90.31 μm (interquartile range (IQR) 77.59 to 97.40); 32% (n = 26) were found to have been below the manufacturing tolerance. There was no correlation found between clearance and bearing (rs = -0.0004, p = 0.997) or taper (rs = 0.0048, p = 0.966) wear rates. The wear performance of hips manufactured within and below these specifications was not significantly different (bearing: p = 0.395; taper: p = 0.653). Pinnacles manufactured from 2007 onwards had a greater prevalence of bearing clearance below tolerance (p = 0.004).

Conclusion: The diametrical clearance of Pinnacle hips did not influence their wear performance, even when below the manufacturing tolerance. The optimum clearance for minimizing hip implant wear remains unclear.Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2020;9(8):515-523.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalBone and joint research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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