Influence of various types of damage on the fracture strength of ceramic femoral heads

Ceramic-on-ceramic articulations are a frequently used bearing for total hip replacements. This success mainly is due to their excellent tribological properties. Ceramics can withstand high pressure loads due to its brittleness but only low bending stresses. A ceramic ball head fracture is the result of subcritical crack growth. This kind of fracture in vivo can abet by damage or contamination of the stem cone. The main goal of this work is to provide a risk assessment of different possible damage mechanisms and contaminations that may result in lower fracture strength of a ceramic ball head. To simulate potential causes, different types and dimensions of metal wire, foils, hair, and lubricants were inserted between the ceramic ball head and the metal cone of the stem. The test results clearly show that fracture strength is negatively infl uenced by most of the inhomogeneities between the cone and the head because they increase the peak stresses acting on a part of the ceramic ball head. The results of this article clearly confi rm the demand for an undamaged taper fi t “ free of contamination ” between the ceramic head and the metal cone during implantation.


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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.