Premature Failure in Orthopedic Implants: Analysis of Three Different Cases
The increasing lifetime of the population on a world-wide scale over the last decades has led to a significant growth in the use of surgical implants for replacement of bones and teeth in affected patients. Other factors, such as scientific-technological development and more frequent exposure of individuals to trauma risk, have also contributed to this general trend. Metallic materials designed for applications in surgical implants, no matter whether orthopedic or dental, must show a group of properties in which biocompatibility, mechanical strength, and resistance to degradation (by wear or corrosion) are of primary importance. In order to reach these aims, orthopedic materials must fulfill certain requirements, usually specified in standards. These requirements include chemical composition, microstructure, and even macrographic appearances. In the present work, three cases of implant failure are presented. These cases demonstrate the most frequent causes of premature failure in orthopedic implants: inadequate surgical procedures and processing/design errors. Evaluation techniques, including optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), were used to evaluate macroscopic and microstructural aspects of the failed implants, and the chemical composition of each material was analyzed. These evaluations showed that design errors and improper surgical procedures of outright violation of standards were the cause of the failures.
KeywordsFailure analysis Implant degradation Microscopy
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