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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 2009, 467(1): 194-198. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1007/s11999-008-0533-8. Copyright © Springer Inc.


Polyethylene wear and osteolysis are not uncommon in THA mid- and long-term. In asymptomatic patients the dilemma faced by the orthopaedic surgeon is whether to revise the cup and risk damage to the supporting columns and even pelvic discontinuity or to perform isolated polyethylene exchange and risk a high rate of postoperative recurrent instability and dislocation that will necessitate further surgery. We retrospectively reviewed 62 patients (67 hips) who underwent revision arthroplasty for polywear and osteolysis. Thirty-six hips had isolated polyethylene exchange, while 31 had full acetabular revision. The minimum followup was 2 years (mean, 2.8 years; range, 2-5 years). Three of 36 hips with a retained cup grafted through the cup holes failed within 5 years due to acetabular loosening. One of 31 hips with full revision underwent re-revision for aseptic cup loosening at 5 months postoperatively. Although we do not recommend prophylactic revision of all cups for polywear and osteolysis, the patient may be warned of the possibility of an approximate 10% failure rate when retaining the acetabular component. We do, however, advocate cup extraction in the following situations: damage to the locking mechanism, erosion of the femoral head through the liner and into the cup damaging the metal, and a malpositioned component that may jeopardize the stability of the revision. Level of Evidence: Level II, prognostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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