Life expectancy of modular Ti6Al4V hip implants: Influence of stress and environment

A. Chandra, J.J. Ryu, P. Karra, P. Shrotriya, Viggo Tvergaard, M. Gaisser, T. Weik

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Stress dependent electrochemical dissolution is identified as one of the key mechanisms governing surface degradation in fretting and crevice corrosion of biomedical implants. The present study focuses on delineating the roles of mechanical stress and chemical conditions on the life expectancy of modular hip implants. First, material removal on a stressed surface of Ti6Al4V subjected to single asperity contact is investigated experimentally to identify the influence of contact load, in-plane stress and chemical environment on mean wear rates. A range of known stress levels are applied to the specimen while its surface is mechanically stimulated in different non-reactive to oxidizing aqueous environments. Evolution of surface degradation is monitored, and its mechanism is elucidated. This phase allows estimation of Preston Constant which is later used in the analysis. Second phase of the work is semi-analytical and computational, where, based on the estimated Preston constant and other material and process parameters, the scratch propensity (consisting of magnitude of scratch depth and their frequency per unit area) due to micro-motion in modular hip implants is estimated. The third phase views these scratches as initial notches and utilizes a mixed-mode fatigue crack propagation model to estimate the critical crack length for onset of instability. The number of loading cycles needed to reach this critical crack length is then labeled as the expected life of the implant under given mechanical and chemical conditions. Implications of different material and process conditions to life expectancy of orthopedic implants are discussed. It is observed that transverse micro-motion, compared to longitudinal micro-motion, plays a far more critical role in determining the implant life. Patient body weight, as well as proximity of the joint fluid to its iso-electric point play key roles in determining wear rates and associated life expectancies of modular hip implants. Sustained aeration of joint fluid, as well as proper tolerancing of mating surfaces, along with a proper choice of material microstructure may be utilized to extend implant life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1990-2001
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Scratch propensity
  • Hip implant
  • Fatigue crack growth
  • Stress dependent electrochemical dissolution
  • Life expectancy


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