Cement mantle defects in total hip arthroplasty: influence of stem size and cementing technique
The cause of isolated osteolysis in the femoral shaft around stem implants in patients with cemented THR has so far not been established. A number of factors have been considered such as torsional stability of the femoral stem implant, the time of reduction intraoperatively after cementing and iatrogenic and load- induced defects in the cement mantle.
The aim of this in vitro investigation was to determine if cementing technique or the thickness of the prosthesis stem, and thus its bending strength, influence the formation, extent and localisation of cement mantle defects. In vitro biomechanical loading tests were performed on twelve anatomically shaped femoral stem prostheses of two different thicknesses which were implanted in artificial bone. Six of the implants were fixed by conventional cementing technique, the other six by means of the vacuum technique. Compared with thicker implant stems, the slimmer stems fixed with the conventional cementing technique had a higher number of cracks in the cement mantle. Pore formation was localised predominantly in the interface area between the bone cement and the “cancellous” bone or “cortex” of the artificial bone. This was observed especially in the non-vacuum mixed cement, regardless of stem thickness. Large pores were found mainly in the cement around the thicker stems which had been mixed by the conventional method. The thickness of the stems, whether fixed with vacuum- mixed or non-vacuum mixed cement, had no significant influence on the percentage of pore area in the cement. In the non-vacuum mixed cement, there was no significant difference between the percentages of pore area in the proximal and distal parts of the shafts, whereas in the vacuum mixed cement the percentage of pore area was significantly larger in the distal than in the proximal part of the shafts. In the specimens of both stem sizes, the percentage of pore area in the vacuum mixed cement was significantly smaller than in the non-vacuum mixed cement. This explains the greater fatigue strength of vacuum mixed cement. The cyclic loading on the thicker stem prostheses, especially in those fixed with vacuum mixed cement, resulted in fracture between the prosthesis tip and the clamping device due to the local stiffness of the artificial bone. Due to this unfavourable biomechanical property of the artificial bone, further studies will be carried out on human femurs. Nevertheless, in view of the results presented here, the vacuum mixing technique has to recommended as the “state of the art” method in cemented total hip arthroplasty.