Effect of mixed alloy combinations on fretting corrosion performance of spinal screw and rod implants

Sachin A. Mali, Vaneet Singh, Jeremy L. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Spinal implants are made from a variety of materials to meet the unique mechanical demands of each application. However, the medical device community has raised concern about mixing dissimilar metals in an implant because of fear of inducing corrosion. There is a lack of systematic studies on the effects of mixing metals on performance of spinal implants, especially in fretting corrosion conditions. Hence, the goal was to determine whether mixing stainless steel (SS316L), titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V) and cobalt chromium (CoCrMo) alloy components in a spinal implant leads to any increased risk of corrosion degradation. Spinal constructs consisting of single assembly screw-connector-rod components were tested using a novel short-term cyclic fretting corrosion test method. A total of 17 alloy component combinations (comprised of SS316L, Ti6Al4V-anodized and CoCrMo alloy for rod, screws and connectors) were tested under three anatomic orientations. Spinal constructs having all SS316L were most susceptible to fretting-initiated crevice corrosion attack and showed higher average fretting currents (∼25 − 30 µA), whereas constructs containing all Ti6Al4V components were less susceptible to fretting corrosion with average fretting currents in the range of 1 − 6 µA. Mixed groups showed evidence of fretting corrosion but they were not as severe as all SS316L group. SEM results showed evidence of severe corrosion attack in constructs having SS316L components. There also did not appear to be any galvanic effects of combining alloys together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1177
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • corrosion
  • fretting corrosion
  • mixed alloy corrosion
  • performance testing
  • spinal screw-connector-rod implants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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