Effect of undersizing on the long-term stability of the Exeter hip stem: A comparative in vitro study

Luca Cristofolini, Paolo Erani, Ewa Bialoblocka-Juszczyk, Hirotsugu Ohashi, Satoshi Iida, Izumi Minato, Marco Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Even for clinically successful hip stems such as the Exeter-V40 occasional failures are reported. It has been reported that sub-optimal pre-operative planning, leading to implant undersizing and/or thin cement mantle, can explain such failures. The scope of this study was to investigate whether stem undersizing and a thin cement mantle are sufficient to cause implant loosening. Methods: A comparative in vitro study was designed to compare hip implants prepared with optimal and smaller than optimal stem size. Exeter-V40, a highly polished cemented hip stem, was used in both cases. Tests were carried out simulating 24 years of activity of active hip patients. A multifaceted approach was taken: inducible and permanent micromotions were recorded throughout the test; cement micro-cracks were quantified using dye penetrants and statistically analyzed. Findings: The implants with an optimal stem size withstood the entire mechanical test, with low and stable inducible micromotions and permanent migrations during the test, and with moderate fatigue damage in the cement mantle after test completion. Conversely, the undersized specimens showed large and increasing micromotions, and failed after few loading cycles, because of macroscopic cracks in the proximal part of the cement mantle. While results for the optimal stem size are typical for stable hip stems, those for the undersize stem indicate a critical scenario. Interpretation: These results confirm that even a clinically successful hip prosthesis such as the Exeter-V40 is prone to early loosening if a stem smaller than the optimal size is implanted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-908
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Fatigue failure
  • In vitro testing
  • Inducible micromotion
  • Long-term implant-bone stability
  • Permanent migration
  • Polished cemented hip prosthesis
  • Stem undersizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biophysics

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