Spontaneous modular femoral head dissociation complicating total hip arthroplasty.
Modular femoral heads have been used successfully for many years in total hip arthroplasty. Few complications have been reported for the modular Morse taper connection between the femoral head and trunnion of the stem in metal-on-polyethylene bearings. Although there has always been some concern over the potential for fretting, corrosion, and generation of particulate debris at the modular junction, this was not considered a significant clinical problem. More recently, concern has increased because fretting and corrosive debris have resulted in rare cases of pain, adverse local tissue reaction, pseudotumor, and osteolysis. Larger femoral heads, which have gained popularity in total hip arthroplasty, are suspected to increase the potential for local and systemic complications of fretting, corrosion, and generation of metal ions because of greater torque at the modular junction. A less common complication is dissociation of the modular femoral heads. Morse taper dissociation has been reported in the literature, mainly in association with a traumatic event, such as closed reduction of a dislocation or fatigue fracture of the femoral neck of a prosthesis. This report describes 3 cases of spontaneous dissociation of the modular prosthetic femoral head from the trunnion of the same tapered titanium stem because of fretting and wear of the Morse taper in a metal-on-polyethylene bearing. Continued clinical and scientific research on Morse taper junctions is warranted to identify and prioritize implant and surgical factors that lead to this and other types of trunnion failure to minimize complications associated with Morse taper junctions as hip implants and surgical techniques continue to evolve.