Recurrent dislocation after total hip arthroplasty is a disabling complication that can be difficult to treat and may not be amenable to nonoperative management. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the clinical and radiographic outcome associated with the use of a constrained acetabular component as a salvage treatment for instability after hip arthroplasty.

We retrospectively reviewed the clinical and radiographic outcome of 110 arthroplasties, in 109 patients, that had been performed with use of a single design of constrained acetabular component. In seventy-nine hips the constrained component was implanted for the treatment of recurrent instability, and in thirty-one hips it was implanted because of absent or grossly deficient soft-tissue attachments that were believed to be associated with a high risk for subsequent instability.

The constrained acetabular device eliminated or prevented hip instability in all patients except two, who continued to have sensations of subluxation. The mean Harris hip score improved significantly, from 62.7 points preoperatively to 76.4 points at the time of the latest follow-up (p < 0.0001). There were no instances of dislocation or disassembly of the hip components. Radiographic analysis revealed radiolucent lines around the cup in fifteen hips (14%). There was a total of nine revisions: six for deep infection, two for acetabular component loosening, and one for a periprosthetic fracture of the femur.

A constrained acetabular component reliably restores and maintains hip stability in patients with recalcitrant recurrent instability and can dependably prevent dislocation in those who are at high risk because of absent or deficient soft tissues about the hip. However, because of the early appearance of radiolucent lines around some components and concerns about long-term fixation, the use of these devices should be reserved for situations in which other methods are inadequate or have already failed.

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