Stress shielding and stress concentration of contemporary epiphyseal hip prostheses

L. Cristofolini, M. Juszczyk, F. Taddei, R. E. Field, N. Rushton, M. Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After the first early failures, proximal femoral epiphyseal replacement is becoming popular again. Prosthesis-to-bone load transfer is critical for two reasons: stress shielding is suspected of being responsible for a number of failures of early epiphyseal prostheses; stress concentration is probably responsible of the relevant number of early femoral neck fractures in resurfaced patients. The scope of this work was to experimentally investigate the load transfer of a commercial epiphyseal prosthesis (Birmingham Hip Replacement (BHR)) and an innovative prototype proximal epiphyseal replacement. To investigate bone surface strain, ten cadaveric femurs were instrumented with 15 triaxial strain gauges. In addition the cement layer of the prototype was instrumented with embedded gauges to estimate the strain in the adjacent trabecular bone. Six different loading configurations were investigated, with and without muscles. For the BHR prosthesis, significant stress shielding was observed on the posterior side of the head-neck region (the strain was halved); a pronounced stress concentration was observed on the anterior surface (up to five times in some specimens); BHR was quite sensitive to the different loading configurations. For the prototype, the largest stress shielding was observed in the neck region (lower than the BHR; alteration less than 20 per cent); some stress concentration was observed at the head region, close to the rim of the prosthesis (alteration less than 20 per cent); the different loading configurations had similar effects. Such large alterations with respect to the pre-operative conditions were found only in regions where the strain level was low. Conversely, alterations were moderate where the strain was higher. Thus, prosthesis-to-bone load transfer of both devices has been elucidated; the prototype preserved a stress distribution closer to the physiological condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-44
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Embedded strain gauges
  • Epiphyseal hip prostheses
  • Femoral head resurfacing
  • In-vitro bone testing
  • Load transfer
  • Physiologicalloading
  • Proximal femur
  • Stress concentration
  • Stress shielding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medicine(all)


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