Connective soft tissues at the interface between implants and bone, such as in human joint replacements, can endanger the stability of the implant fixation. The potential of an implant to generate interface bone resorption and form soft tissue depends on many variables, including mechanical ones. These mechanical factors can be expressed in terms of relative motions between bone and implant at the interface or deformation of the interfacial material. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if interface debonding and subsequent relative interface motions can be responsible for interface degradation and soft tissue interposition as seen in experiments and clinical results. A finite element computer program was augmented with a mathematical description of interface debonding, dependent on interface stress criteria, and soft tissue interface interposition, dependent on relative interface motions. Three simplified models of orthopaedic implants were constructed: a cortical bone screw for fracture fixation plates, a femoral resurfacing prosthesis and a straight stem model, cemented in a bone. The predicted computer configurations were compared with clinical observations. The computer results showed how interface disruption and fibrous tissue interposition interrelate and possibly enhance each other, whereby a progressive development of the soft tissue layer can occur. Around the cortical bone screw, the predicted resorption patterns were relatively large directly under the screw head and showed a pivot point in the opposite cortex. The resurfacing cup model predicted some fibrous tissue formation under the medial and lateral cup rim, whereby the medial layer developed first because of higher initial interface stresses. The straight stem model predicted initial interface failure at the proximal parts. After proximal resorption and fibrous tissue interposition, the medial interface was completely disrupted and developed an interface layer. The distal and mid lateral side maintained within the strength criterion. Although the applied models were relatively simple, the results showed reasonable qualitative agreement with resorption patterns found in clinical studies concerning bone screws and the resurfacing cup. The hypothesis that interface debonding and subsequent relative (micro)motions could be responsible for bone resorption and fibrous tissue propagation is thereby sustained by the results.

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Journal of Biomechanics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Weinans, H., Huiskes, R., & Grootenboer, H. J. (1993). Quantitative analysis of bone reactions to relative motions at implant-bone interfaces. Journal of Biomechanics, 26(11), 1271–1281. doi:10.1016/0021-9290(93)90351-E