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Long-Term Performance of Ceramic and Metal Femoral Heads on Conventional Polyethylene in Young and Active Patients


Ceramic femoral heads produce less wear of the opposing polyethylene than do metal femoral heads in wear simulation studies. This is a matched-pair analysis of the wear of ceramic and metal femoral heads on conventional polyethylene in uncemented total hip replacements in young, active patients at a minimum of fifteen years of follow-up.


From June 1989 to May 1992, thirty-one matched pairs of alumina ceramic or cobalt-chromium metal femoral heads were identified. Patients were matched on the basis of age, sex, body weight, diagnosis, and activity level. The mean age was 55 ± 9 years (range, twenty-three to sixty-five years) at the time of surgery. All procedures were performed with a posterolateral surgical approach by a single surgeon using press-fit Ranawat-Bernstein femoral stems, Harris-Galante-II acetabular cups, GUR 4150 conventional polyethylene (sterilized in argon), and 28-mm-diameter femoral heads. Wear measurements were performed by two independent observers using the computer-assisted Roman software.


The average duration of follow-up was 17 ± 1.7 years (range, fifteen to twenty years). The mean Hospital for Special Surgery hip scores (and standard deviation) in the ceramic and metal groups were 39 ± 4 and 40 ± 3 at the time of final follow-up. The University of California Los Angeles activity score at the time of the final follow-up was 6 ± 2 for both groups. The mean wear rates for the ceramic group and the metal group were 0.086 ± 0.05 mm/yr and 0.137 ± 0.05 mm/yr, respectively (p = 0.0015). There was one reoperation in the ceramic group because of distal femoral osteolysis. There were three failures in the metal group, requiring isolated liner exchange in two hips and revision of the acetabular component in one hip because of wear-induced osteolysis and/or loosening that caused symptoms. Five hips in the ceramic group and six hips in the metal group had radiographic evidence of acetabular or femoral osteolysis, but none were symptomatic.


Ceramic femoral heads produced significantly less wear on conventional polyethylene liners at the time of long-term follow-up than did metal heads in this matched-pair analysis of young and active patients with uncemented fixation.

Meftah, Morteza MD1; Klingenstein, Gregory G. MD1; Yun, Richard J. BS1; Ranawat, Amar S. MD1; Ranawat, Chitranjan S. MD1

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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery: July 3, 2013 – Volume 95 – Issue 13 – p 1193-1197

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00432