A finite element and experimental investigation of the femoral component mechanics in a total hip arthroplasty

Bell, Cameron Gordon (2006) A finite element and experimental investigation of the femoral component mechanics in a total hip arthroplasty. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Total hip arthroplasty (THA) is a successful surgical technique that can be used for the effective treatment of fractured neck of femur, osteoarthritis, tumours, avascular necrosis, failed internal fixation, developmental dysplasia and rheumatoid arthritis. Revision surgery is necessary if loosening allows relative motion between the femoral stem and femur, causing pain and mechanical instability of the THA. The large number of revision operations undertaken each year as a result of implant failure emphasises the need for better biomechanical understanding of the femoral implant system. During 2001-02 in Australia 26,689 hip replacement operations were performed, with 3,710 of these being revision operations. The Exeter stem is the most commonly used cemented stem for primary and revision hip replacement in Australia. It is therefore very important to understand the mechanics of this clinically successful implant. Few studies have presented a through investigation into the mechanics of the Exeter stem from a fundamental perspective.

To address these issues, mechanical and finite element (FE) methods were used to conduct experiments and numerical investigations into the mechanics of the Exeter stem. The femur geometry, for both the experimental and FE studies, was based upon the Sawbones model 3303 medium left third generation femur. The stem orientation for all specimens of the study was replicated from the orientation achieved by the senior surgeon implanting into the Sawbones femur. Test rigs were designed specifically to constrain the femur for the purposes of loading and stability measurements.

The experimental investigation was used to investigate the torsional mechanical stability of the stem and to monitor this stability following periods of cyclic loading, using a resultant hip contact force, while monitoring the distal migration of the stem. The experimental investigation was also able to provide data for the validation of the finite element model. The resultant hip contact force was represented experimentally by a cyclic load of 1Hz applied to the head of the implant. The specimen was tested for four days. The loading regime for the initially implanted specimen involved the application of load for 6 hours a day, allowing the specimen to relax under no load for 18 hours a day. The mechanical stability of the initially implanted specimen was tested prior to the application of the cyclic load and immediately after the loading periods, prior to relaxation. Further tests were undertaken to assess the mechanical stability of the stem following the removal and reimplantation of the same stem without the use of additional bone cement (a procedure used surgically when only the acetabular component requires replacement). The reimplanted specimens were tested for a further two days following reimplantation. The six hours of loading for the reimplanted specimen was achieved using three, two hour loading periods. The stability of the reimplaned stem was assessed following each loading period.

Initial studies found that the material properties of the Sawbones femurs were highly temperature dependent. If the temperature of the short glass fibre reinforced (SGFR) epoxy used for the cortical bone analogue was increased from room temperature to body temperature there was a reduction in the Young's modulus of up to 37 percent. This finding led to further investigation into the strain state of the femur for varus and neutral stem orientations to reduce femur failure during cyclic loading. The strains of the varus stem orientation were found to be higher than the strains of the neutral stem. The experiments investigating the mechanical stability under cyclic loading continued using the neutral stem orientation.

For the neutral stem orientation it was found that there was no perceivable variation in the torsional stiffness of the initially implanted system during the cyclic loading period even though distal migration was observed. Torsional stiffness was observed to be compromised immediately after reimplantation. However, the torsional stiffness of the reimplanted specimen was recovered within the first two hour loading period. No perceivable variation in the torsional stiffness was observed between the initially implanted specimens and the reimplanted specimens following the first two hours of loading.

The finite element model (FEM) found good agreement with the experimental investigation in terms of measured strain at two of three rosette positions and failure of the cortical bone. Trends for the stress-strain state of the stem showed good agreement with the clinical findings of failure and wear of the stem. The stress-strain state of the cement predicted the expected compressive and hoop stresses once debonding of the stem-cement interface had progressed. Strain on the surface of the femur was well predicted for pure torsional loading. The FEM has provided a valuable tool for future investigation of the effect of factors such as implant positioning on femoral component mechanics.

The experimental and finite element models developed within the scope of this project have provided a powerful analysis tool for the investigation of the femoral component mechanics in THA. Application of the model to clinically relevant problems has given valuable insight into the mechanisms behind the success of this particular implant type. Models such as this will provide information on implant failure modes that will further lead to an increased implant life expectancy and a reduction in the number of revision operations performed.

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ID Code: 16214
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Pearcy, Mark, Adam, Clayton, Crawford, Ross, Smeathers, James, & Donnelly, William
Keywords: total hip replacement, femoral component, biomechanics, finite element analysis
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Cameron Gordon Bell
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:58
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2015 01:37

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