One hundred forty‐eight retrieved modular hip prostheses of both mixed (Ti‐6Al‐4V/CoCr) and similar (CoCr/CoCr) metal combinations were examined and positive evidence of corrosive attack was found in the conical taper region between head and stem. Significant corrosion was observed in both mixed and similar metal combinations with 16% of necks and 35% of heads (for mixed‐metal cases), and 14% of necks and 23% of heads (for similar‐metal cases) showing moderate to severe corrosive attack. There was a significant correlation between the percentage of prostheses with moderate to severe corrosion and the duration of implantation for both mixed and similar metal cases, indicating that this corrosion process is progressive in time. Moderate to severe corrosion was seen as early as 2.5 and 11 months (mixed and similar metals, respectively). Scanning electron microscopy and x‐ray analysis identified several forms of corrosive attack in the cobaltbased component of the taper. These included, for both mixed and same metal combinations: preferential dissolution of cobalt, fretting, and pitting; mixed metals only: the formation of a Ti‐Cr‐Mo interfacial phase and interdendritic corrosion; and for similar metals: intergranular attack adjacent to grain boundaries enriched in molybdenum and silicon. It is hypothesized that the restricted crevice environment, coupled with high cyclic stresses which cause repeated fracture of the passive oxide films in the taper, result in an unstable electrochemical environment within the crevice for both the cobalt alloy and Ti‐alloy passive films. The passivity of these alloys is subsequently lost and active attack of the taper results. Also, the repeated fracturing of the passive films will result in large amounts of corrosion products being formed. This corrosion and particulate accumulation could result in loss of mechanical integrity of the implants in vivo, create particles for third body wear, and release particles into the surrounding tissues. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering