Hip and Knee Surgeon

New Biomaterials: Tantalum

Tantalum implants are becoming more popular in total hip arthroplasty, and especially for «resurfacing». Unlike titanium, which is the material of choice, tantalum has a high porosity and characteristics very similar to bone, which suggest that it may last longer, although the results we have so far cover five years for primary surgery, and two years for revisions.

Tantalum is a less rigid metal and therefore adapts better to the bone. In addition, its elliptical instead of spherical configuration in the acetabulum, gives it excellent primary stability.

The first European five-year results warrant its use for primary surgery. It is employed in the acetabular part of monoblock sockets, where the metal dome and the polyethylene form a single unit.

At the Musculoskeletal Institute, tantalum implants are preferred for primary total hip arthroplasty. These are chosen not only for the qualities of the material, but also for the monobloc socket concept, which involves thicker polyethylene, moulded under direct compression using an elliptical shape that gives it great primary stability without the need for screws.

The advantage over titanium is that, if correctly placed, the osseo-integrated polyethylene may perform better in the long run.