The Challenge of Corrosion in Orthopaedic Implants

Kenneth L. Urish, MD, PhD; Paul A. Anderson, MD; William M. Mihalko, MD, PhD; and the AAOS Biomedical Engineering Committee

Corrosion has been a persistent challenge in orthopaedics. Even Sir John Charnley noted the critical challenges of corrosion in the design of trauma and arthroplasty implants. The idea that different metals cannot be used in the same implant secondary to galvanic corrosion is a basic scientific concept in orthopaedic residency education.

But in actual practice, multiple different metals are combined to improve overall implant design. In hip arthroplasty, for example, cobalt-chrome heads fitted to titanium stems are the industry standard. Where is the disconnect between standard practice and textbooks?

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