The authors reviewed their collection of retrieved all metal hip joints (9 McKee-Farrar, 7 Müller, and 3 Huggler type prostheses) and tissues from the joint capsules and implant beds. The amount of wear was measured, and the total volume was calculated. The tissues were analyzed by atomic absorption spectral analysis or inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and examined by light and scanning electron microscopy. The size of particles was measured with a texture analysis system. The articulating surfaces showed many delicate scratches which represent normal wear. The calculated annual wear averaged approximately 5 mm per year, which is low compared with polyethylene. The cellular reaction to metal wear particles was regarded as mild. The cellular reaction to scattered and worn bone cement was always more pronounced than to metallic debris. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the irregular shapes and mostly submicron size of the metal particles. The analytically detected metal content of the periarticular tissue was relatively low and in accordance with the wear measurements from the articulating surfaces. The excess of chromium in the tissues is discussed in the light of the elimination of cobalt as well as the relation between elements representing either corrosion products or elements still bound in wear particles.

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