Mixing different types of metallic implants during fracture fixation – results of an online survey of over 1,000 surgeons
De Faoite D, Hanson B, Höntzsch D
Objective: Different materials are used in implants around the world (e.g. Stainless Steel, Titanium). We wanted to understand the current usage of materials in trauma surgery and surgeons‘ beliefs around the topic.
Method: An attitudinal survey on the practice of mixing different types of metallic implants during fracture fixation was conducted. The questionnaire was distributed via email to a global network of trauma and orthopedic surgeons (approx. 45000). The survey, which comprised of 23 questions, ran from 14 May 2013 until 16 June 2013 and the SurveyMonkey service was used. A total of 1113 participants started the survey and 1038 finished it (93.3%).
Respondents: The 1033 respondents who answered this question practice surgery in Europe (454; 44%), Asia Pacific (234; 23%), Latin America (129; 12%), Middle East and Africa (115; 11%), plus the USA and Canada (101; 10%).
Materials currently used: 1101 respondents reported Stainless Steel (56%) followed by Titanium and Titanium Alloy (43%) as the most popular materials used. 70% of respondents (781/1108) cited availability as the reason why they chose one material over another, with familiarity at 44% (491/1108) second.
Attitude toward mixing metals: Only 10% of all respondents (113/1097) gave a favorable response when asked how likely they were to use mixed metal implant constructs. However, 30% of respondents have used a construct that mixed metals (335/1102). 202/330 comments on why they mixed metals related to availability, while 72/330 comments related to personal choices and beliefs. Under ‚Availability,‘ some comments were received that the hospital decided on the implant, not the surgeon. Furthermore, others noted that they took material from other cases that were already open.
Overall, 48% (515/1082) reported having specific concerns with using implants that mix metals, with 406/496 surgeons commenting on these concerns specifically mentioning metal reaction / corrosion / electrolysis.
Change in practice: Respondents were asked about possible behavior changes. 44% of Titanium users (424/926) agreed that they would use Stainless Steel screws in a Titanium plate if screw removal was significantly improved. 52% of Stainless Steel users (520/992) would use a Titanium plate with Stainless Steel screws if the construct was proven to be more flexible and have better fatigue strength. 53% of these Stainless Steel users (509/956) would use a Titanium plate with Cobalt Chromium Molybdenum alloy (CoCrMo) screws if the construct was proven to be more flexible and had better fatigue strength.
Conclusions: There is an obvious reluctance by 90% of surgeons to use mixed metal implant constructs, although 70% of them have never used them. Availability rather than choice is the leading driver when mixed metals are used. However, surgeons appear to be open to changing their viewpoint with favorable responses ranging from 44% to 53% received for proposed future improved mixed metals scenarios.
Deutscher Kongress für Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie (DKOU 2014). Berlin, 28.-31.10.2014. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2014. DocWI18-1160
Published: October 13, 2014
© 2014 De Faoite et al.
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