Although the short-term performance of modern resurfacing hip arthroplasty is impressive, the long-term performance is still unknown. It is hypothesised that bone remodelling and the resulting changes in stress/strain distribution within the resurfaced femur influence the risk of fixation failure.

Three-dimensional finite element models and adaptive bone remodelling algorithms have been used to predict long-term changes in bone density following cemented femoral head resurfacing. Applied loading conditions include normal walking and stair climbing. The remodelling simulation was validated by comparing the results of an analysis of a proximal femur implanted with a Charnley femoral component with known clinical data in terms of bone density adaptations.

Resurfacing caused a reduction of strain of 20-70% in the bone underlying the implant as compared to the intact femur, immediately post operative. Elevated strains, ranging between 0.50 and 0.80% strain, were generated post-operatively around the proximal femoral neck regions, indicating a potential risk of neck fracture. However, this strain concentration was considerably reduced after bone remodelling. After remodelling, bone resorption of 60-90% was observed in the bone underlying the implant. Reduction in bone density of 5-47% occurred in the lateral femoral head. Bone apposition was observed in the proximal-medial cortex, around the inferior edge of the implant. Hardly any changes in bone density occurred in the distal neck or the femoral diaphysis.

Although resurfacing has produced encouraging clinical results, bone remodelling within the femoral head might be a concern for long-term fixation. Regions of strain concentration at the head-neck junction, which may increase the initial risk of femoral neck fracture, are reduced with bone remodelling. In order to reduce this risk of femoral neck fracture, patients should avoid activities which induce high loading of the hip during the early rehabilitation period after surgery.

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