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VOLUME 2 , ISSUE 2-3 ( December, 2007 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

The tantalum screw for treating femoral head necrosis: rationale and results

R. Aldegheri, G. Taglialavoro, A. Berizzi

Keywords : Femoral head necrosis, Hip, Surgical treatment

Citation Information : Aldegheri R, Taglialavoro G, Berizzi A. The tantalum screw for treating femoral head necrosis: rationale and results. 2007; 2 (2-3):63-68.

DOI: 10.1007/s11751-007-0021-9

License: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Published Online: 01-12-2019

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2007; The Author(s).


Femoral head necrosis (FHN) is a progressive pathology due to the failure of blood supply to the proximal femoral epiphysis, with consequent necrosis of the sub-chondral bone and collapse of the articular cartilage and loss of congruity between the head and the acetabulum. Borrowing the biological and mechanical principles from the vascularized fibular graft technique for the femoral neck, the tantalum screws have been introduced. They show an extraordinary porosity, osteoconductivity, biocompatibility and very good osteoinductivity. Vitreous tantalum can be processed to take the form of a screw, with a round medial extremity and a 25 mm threaded lateral extremity that can be inserted into the neck of the femur, thereby supporting the articular cartilage, stimulating the repair process, interrupting the interface between necrotic and healthy tissue and favoring local vascularization. We have drawn up a treatment protocol for early-stage FHN, based on the insertion of a tantalum screw into the femoral neck. The implant has a cylindrical shape, with a 10 mm diameter in the smooth part and 15 mm in the threaded part. It is available in different sizes from 70 to 130 mm, with 5 mm increments. The aim of the study is to describe the clinical and instrumental results of the tantalum screw for FHN. From June 2004 to June 2006 we performed 15 implants. The tantalum screw was inserted with an incision on the trochanteric region with traction and under X-ray control. For the clinical evaluation of the hip, we used the Harris hip score (HHS). For diagnosis and staging we used standard X-rays in two views and/or MRI, using the Steinberg classification (J Bone Joint Surg Br 77:34–41, 1995) and CT. In all cases, the osteonecrosis extended to not more than 30% of the joint surface and the cartilage was intact with no collapse. To assess the results, we compared the pre-operative and the post-operative HHS, calculated the percentage differences between the two. We then compared X-rays, CT scans and MRI before and some time after the operation to assess whether the problem had been addressed, taking into account the intracancellous edema and the possible extension of necrosis. After an average follow-up period of 15.43 ± 5.41 months, ten implants (seven patients out of ten) were examined and all but one patient showed a marked improvement in HHS (the average increase was 127.9%), with no further progression of the disease. We believe that this procedure can be suitable for young patients with limited first or second stage osteonecrosis. The objective for the foreseeable future is to resolve the pain, improve the quality of life and prevent or at least postpone arthroplasty.

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