Nanoparticles released from artificial hip joint

Modern medicine would be unthinkable without implants, also known as endoprostheses. They replace damaged joints, thus making life easier for many people. Particles from implants can also lead to medical problems, however. Using the example of a hip joint containing tantalum, a research group with the participation of scientists from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) examined which particles from the endoprosthesis can be detected in tissue and what consequences they have. The research group has now received an award for their study from the German Society for Endoprosthetics and Endoprosthetics Foundation. "The examination constitutes an outstanding contribution to applied nanotechnology research," quotes BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel from the justification of the jury. Their results contributed towards improved understanding of the interactions between the implant and its wear and corrosion products and living human tissue, thus further improving endoprostheses and thereby consumer health protection.

Link to publication:

The study was published under the title "Multi-elemental Nanoparticle Exposure after Tantalum Component Failure in Hip Arthroplasty: In-depth Analysis of a Single Case" in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. The authors are Janosch Schoon, Anastasia Rakow, Sven Geißler, Frank Schulze, Georg N. Duda and Carsten Perka (all from Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin), Andreas Luch and Jutta Tentschert of the BfR, as well as Juliane Traeger of the University of Potsdam and Giorgio Perino of the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York.

Modern materials play a special role in endoprosthetic replacement of various joints like hip, knee or shoulder joints. Wear must be kept to a minimum, because artificial joints are intended to remain in the body for a lifetime. In the award-winning case study, the research group examined an artificial hip joint for the release of metals, which had to be removed again due to complications. Various metals and alloys were detected in nanoparticulate form in the surrounding tissue. Using elemental analysis, the researchers determined the identity and size of particles of tantalum, cobalt, titanium, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum and aluminium. The spread of these materials in the tissue was also examined and evaluated.

Conclusion: In the view of the scientists involved in the study, the interactions between the implant and its wear and corrosion products within human tissue should be observed and monitored more closely in order to improve the safety of implants.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

The BfR is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the institute has published a jubilee brochure (in German) which can be downloaded or ordered free of charge at

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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