Is wear debris responsible for failure in alumina-on-alumina implants? Clinical, histological, and laboratory investigations of 30 revision cases with a median follow-up time of 8 years

Lucia Savarino, Nicola Baldini, Gabriela Ciapetti, Andrea Pellacani, Armando Giunti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and purpose Ceramic-on-ceramic articulation is an attractive alternative to metal-on-polyethylene (PE) bearings, but little is known about the in vivo effects induced by dissemination of alumina wear debris in the periprosthetic tissues. We hypothesized that wear debris is not the main factor responsible for loosening and failure of the implant but that mechanical problems caused by incorrect surgical technique, prosthetic design, or trauma, may cause instability of the implants and result in production of wear debris. Patients and methods Clinical, radiographic, laboratory, and microbiological data from 30 consecutive patients with failed alumina-on-alumina arthroplasties, 19 with screwed socket and 11 with press-fit socket, were systematically collected and evaluated. Retrieved peri-implant tissues and prosthesis wear were also analyzed. Results and Interpretation Loosening was due to malpositioning, primary mechanical instability, trauma, or infection. Bone stock was generally preserved, even if screwed implants showed higher levels of osteolysis. Variable implant wear and tissue macrophage reaction were present but activation of giant cells/osteoclasts was not induced, and no correlation between histocytic reaction and the level of osteolysis was found. These findings indicate that, in contrast to the situation with metal-on-PE bearings, wear debris and occasional osteolysis were the effect rather than the cause of failure of ceramic-on-ceramic implants, and that press-fit socket fixation was the socket fixation design of preference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-167
Number of pages6
JournalActa Orthopaedica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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