14 October 2014

European Hip Society’s 11th Congress names taper corrosion abstract from Smith & Nephew as one of the meeting’s best

Researchers from Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN;LSE:SN), the global medical technology business, presented their abstract titled, “Factors that Influence Taper Corrosion: Learning from an 18-year Retrieval Database” at the 11th Congress of the European Hip Society (EHS) in Stockholm, Sweden. Named as one of the meeting’s best abstracts by the Society’s scientific committee, the abstract looked at femoral head retrievals to identify potential factors that relate to the incidence and severity of taper corrosion in hip replacements.

The findings of the study revealed that neither head size nor time spent in vivo significantly correlated with higher taper corrosion scores. However, both head material and offset did, with OXINIUM heads showing no measurable material loss due to corrosion at the taper.

“We’re very honoured that our abstract was named as one of the best by the European Hip Society,” said Laura Whitsitt, Divisional Senior Vice President of Research and Emerging Technologies at Smith & Nephew.

“Cobalt chrome heads have a 20-plus year track record of clinical success. However, as a company committed to bringing innovative solutions to the market and improving healthcare for patients and providers, we’re pleased to have data showing that OXINIUM femoral heads may offer a significant clinical benefit compared to cobalt chrome when it comes to reducing taper corrosion at the head-stem junction.”  

The abstract will also be published in a forthcoming issue of “Hip International.”

Facts about the study

The issue of taper corrosion typically refers to a reaction that occurs at the junction between the femoral head, or ball portion of the implant, and the hip stem taper. Because these two implant components can be made of different materials, micro-movements and electrochemical reactions can cause corrosion to occur at the contacting surfaces. This type of corrosion, termed as mechanically assisted crevice corrosion (MACC), can lead to an adverse local tissue response (ALTR) which may require revision of the original hip replacement.1

For their study, Smith & Nephew researchers looked at 204 femoral heads that had been revised between 1997 and 2014. All of the femoral heads studied were made of either cobalt-chromium-molybdenum (CoCrMo), the most commonly used material for femoral heads, or oxidized zirconium (OxZr), a Smith & Nephew proprietary material marketed under the brand name OXINIUM. In addition to head material, the researchers also compared the effect of head size, femoral neck offset and the amount of time spent in vivo on the taper corrosion scores.

About OXINIUM™ Oxidized Zirconium:

OXINIUM implants are made from a biocompatible and corrosion resistant zirconium and niobium alloy that is heated to produce a ceramicized outer surface. Because of this ceramic surface, OXINIUM femoral heads offer the benefit of ceramics heads without the fracture risk.2

Editor’s Note:

There are multiple factors that may contribute to taper corrosion. While this study looked at several factors, additional factors such as impaction force, taper cleanliness, stem materials, patient-to-patient variability and stem designs were not studied.




Joe Metzger

Smith & Nephew





Ingeborg Oie

Smith & Nephew

+44 (0)20 7401 7646


About Smith & Nephew

Smith & Nephew is a global medical technology business dedicated to helping healthcare professionals improve people's lives. With leadership positions in Orthopaedic Reconstruction, Advanced Wound Management, Sports Medicine and Trauma & Extremities, Smith & Nephew has around 14,000 employees and a presence in more than 90 countries. Annual sales in 2013 were more than $4.3 billion. Smith & Nephew is a member of the FTSE100 (LSE: SN, NYSE: SNN).

For more information about Smith & Nephew, please visit our corporate website www.smith-nephew.com, follow @SmithNephewplc on Twitter or visit SmithNephewplc on Facebook.com

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1Jacobs JJ, Cooper HJ, Urban RM, Wixson RL, Della Valle CJ, “What do we know about taper corrosion in total hip arthroplasty,” J Arthroplasty. 2014 Apr;29 (4):6689. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24655613

2G. Hadley Callaway, MD, William Flynn, MD, Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD,and Thomas R Sculco, MD. Fracture of the Femoral Head After Ceramic-on-polyethylene Total Hip Arthroplasty. Journal of Arthroplasty; Vol. 10 No. 6: 1995.