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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v20.i1.100
pages 81-85

Human Postmortem Device Retrieval and Analysis—Orthopaedic, Cardiovascular, and Dental Systems

Jack Lemons
Departments of Prosthodontics, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
B. Brott
Departments of Prosthodontics, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
Alan Eberhardt
Departments of Prosthodontics, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

ABSTRACT

On the basis of decades of analyzing implant devices, tissues, and clinical records from revision surgical explants (called device failure), studies now include postmortem donors and in situ conditions (called success). A key issue has been information exchange from an interdisciplinary team where basic physical and biological studies complement details of the clinical conditions for each device. Overall, the summary information has shown that most revisions were based on factors associated with the patient health, disease, and compliance, with few outcomes directly correlated with technology and device-specific factors. However, because of the large numbers of devices implanted annually (millions), any sampling that reveals adverse circumstances could result in a high level of importance and the need for additional studies of this type. Experience from prior retrieval and analysis demonstrates significant value where peer reviewed results from investigations have altered the discipline and have improved the quality and longevity of health care associated with implanted devices. This report summarizes completed and ongoing studies of cardiovascular, dental, and orthopaedic systems. Endovascular stents from autopsies showed damage including fretting and corrosion from overlapping and intersecting conditions, plus some corrosion and element transfers to tissues from individual stents. Studies are proposed to increase numbers to evaluate clinical significance. Dental implants from postmortem donors that functioned more than 10 years provided evaluations of cobalt alloy devices and calcium phosphate bone graft substitutes originally investigated in the 1970s. Tissue integration and stability correlated with data from prior laboratory in vitro and in vivo investigations. Studies of articulation and fixation from orthopaedic total joint arthroplasties showed some limitations related to surface changes of YTZ zirconia, specific damage due to implantation procedures, which led to modified instrumentation and techniques, and several examples of conditions leading to longer-term device-to-bone fixation. These types of multidisciplinary studies are continuing.