Barrack, Robert L MD *; Burak, Corey MD +; Skinner, Harry B MD, PHD ++ Abstract: Currently available ceramic materials are superior to those used originally in total hip arthroplasty, which should translate into a much lower complication rate than what has been reported previously. In spite of this, a number of concerns remain. The ceramic-on-ceramic articulation is not immune to wear and surface damage. Conditions associated with ceramic wear include vertical cup position, femoral neck impingement, and femoral head separation. A unique pattern of stripe wear has been described as something that results from microseparation during gait. Catastrophic failure, although rare, continues to be a concern, and not all fractures can be predicted by proof testing. Revisions needed because of ceramic fractures can be extensive, and the results of the revision procedures can be compromised by the presence of highly abrasive particulate debris that is retained. Other concerns include the generation of debris from modular interfaces, neck damage and debris generation from impingement of some designs, inability to use a ceramic head a second time on a metal trunnion, and the dramatic loss of head and liner options intraoperatively. Although ceramics show great promise as a lower wear articulation, manufacturing and design modifications and improvements will continue in an attempt to address the substantial concerns that persist.
Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research. 1(429):73-79, December 2004.