In vivo severe corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement of retrieved modular body titanium alloy hip-implants

Danieli C. Rodrigues, Robert M. Urban, Joshua J. Jacobs, Jeremy L. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Titanium alloys are widely used in total-joint replacements due to a combination of outstanding mechanical properties, biocompatibility, passivity, and corrosion resistance. Nevertheless, retrieval studies have pointed out that these materials can be subjected to localized or general corrosion in modular interfaces when mechanical abrasion of the oxide film (fretting) occurs. Modularity adds large crevice environments, which are subject to micromotion between contacting interfaces and differential aeration of the surface. Titanium alloys are also known to be susceptible to hydrogen absorption, which can induce precipitation of hydrides and subsequent brittle failure. In this work, the surface of three designs of retrieved hip-implants with Ti-6Al-4V/Ti-6Al-4V modular taper interfaces in the stem were investigated for evidence of severe corrosion and precipitation of brittle hydrides during fretting-crevice corrosion in the modular connections. The devices were retrieved from patients and studied by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and chemical analysis. The surface qualitative investigation revealed severe corrosion attack in the mating interfaces with evidence of etching, pitting, delamination, and surface cracking. In vivo hydrogen embrittlement was shown to be a mechanism of degradation in modular connections resulting from electrochemical reactions induced in the crevice environment of the tapers during fretting-crevice corrosion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Crack
  • Crevice corrosion
  • Hydrogen embrittlement
  • Pitting
  • Titanium alloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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