Mechanical failure of hydroxyapatite-coated titanium and cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy implants. An animal study.

Published online: Dec 27 1993

L Nimb, K Gotfredsen, and J Steen Jensen.

University of Copenhagen, Department of Orthopaedics, U-2161 Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


Defects in the hydroxyapatite (HA) ceramic coatings applied to metallic implant systems may occur at the time of insertion or at the time of in vivo loading. However, defects may also occur with time because of interaction with physiological fluids. A canine study was performed to make a histological and biomechanical evaluation of HA-coated titanium and cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy implants in a non-weight-bearing model. Twelve cylindrical plugs were inserted into the medial femoral condyle on 6 mongrel dogs. HA-coatings of 80-120 microns thickness were applied to 6 Cr-Co-Mo implants and 6 Ti-6AI-4V implants. The implants were removed together with adjacent bone tissue after 4 weeks. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups for interface shear strength. No differences were encountered with HA-coating on Cr-Co-Mo or on Ti-6AI-4V, failure consistently being caused by disruption between the metal surface and the HA-coating, which remained fixed to the bone. At histologic evaluation the HA-coated implants exhibited a great amount of direct bone-to-implant contact. In spite of that, this study indicates that HA-coating on smooth metal surfaces might not be suitable for clinical use, because of low bonding strength between metal and coating.