Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Two- to 4-Year Followup of a Short Stem THA Construct: Excellent Fixation, Thigh Pain a Concern

Richard L. Amendola MS, Devon D. Goetz MD, Steve S. Liu MD, John J. Callaghan MD

Abstract

Background

Short stem cementless femoral components were developed to aid insertion through smaller incisions, preserve metaphyseal bone, and potentially decrease or limit the incidence of thigh pain. Despite some clinical success, the senior author (DDG) believed a higher percentage of his patients who had received a cementless short stem design were experiencing thigh pain, which, coupled with concerns about bone ingrowth fixation, motivated the review of this case series.

Questions/purposes

(1) What is the proportion of patients treated with a short stem cementless THA femoral component that develop thigh pain and what are the hip scores of this population? (2) What are the radiographic results, specifically with respect to bone ingrowth fixation and stress shielding, of this design? (3) Are there particular patient or procedural factors that are associated with thigh pain with this short stem design?

Methods

Two hundred sixty-one primary THAs were performed in 238 patients by one surgeon between November 2010 and August 2012. During this time period, all patients undergoing primary THA by this surgeon received the same cementless short titanium taper stem. Seven patients (eight hips) died and five patients (five hips) were lost to followup, leaving 226 patients (248 hips) with a mean followup of 3 years (range, 2–5 years). Patients rated their thigh pain during activity or rest at final followup on a 10-point visual analog scale. Harris hip scores (HHS) were obtained at every clinic appointment. Thigh pain was evaluated at the final followup or by contacting the patient by phone. Radiographs were evaluated for bone-implant fixation, bone remodeling, and osteolysis. An attempt was made to correlate thigh pain with patient demographics, implant specifications, or radiographic findings.

Results

Seventy-six percent of hips (180 of 238) had no thigh pain, 16% of hips (37 of 238) had mild thigh pain, and 9% (21 of 238) had moderate or severe thigh pain. Preoperatively, mean HHS was 47 (SD, 16) and at last followup, mean HHS was 88 (SD, 13). There were two femoral revisions, one for severe thigh pain and the other for infection. All but two components demonstrated bone ingrowth fixation (99%). Femoral stress shielding was mild in 64% of hips (135 of 212), moderate in 0.5% (one of 212), and severe in no hips. There is an inverse linear relationship between age and severity of thigh pain (r = −0.196; p < 0.0024).

Conclusions

Although reliable fixation was achieved and good HHS were attained, the frequency and severity of thigh pain with this short cementless stem were concerning. The surgeon has subsequently abandoned this short stem design and returned to a conventional length stem. Future study direction might investigate the biomechanical grounds for the thigh pain associated with this stem design.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study.

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