Case Study and Failure Analysis of a total hip Stem Fracture

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A total hip replacement is a procedure that requires removal of the affected joint lesions and replacing it with artificial elements. Nevertheless, like any invasive surgery, it is associated with the risk of complications, including joint infection, fracture of the bone during and after surgery, scarring and limitation of motion of the hip, and loosening of the prosthesis. In this work we present and describe the results of its investigations. In order to determine the mechanism of failure, a broken stem components were analyzed by means of macroscopic and microscopic observations and hardness measurements. The hardness, microstructure and chemical composition of the broken part of the hip stem were analyzed. Microscopic examination revealed numerous defects in material. Among them are pores and emptiness, located on the outskirts of the tested samples and a plurality of micro-cracking, debonding and delamination of the material due to the overloading of a fatigue character. There were no changes caused by intergranular corrosion or pitting, which may indicate for an even distribution of the major alloying components such as chromium and nickel. Observations of the material by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), clearly proved that the destruction was caused by material fatigue. The investigation showed that the crack had originated due to a high stress concentration on the lateral corner section of the stem. Large surface of the fatigue crack zone area indicated for small stresses and small crack propagation velocities. There was a clear correlation between the grain size of the steel hardness. The results of hardness test revealed a significant increase hardness of stem in relation to the normative values. In addition, the measured average grain size is less than the standard accepted. Using Solid Works simulation and FEM a model of the stem was created and analyzed in terms of strength and rated the distribution of the generated stress. The finite-element analysis confirmed that there is the highest stress concentration in the middle of the stem

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