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Proximally hydroxyapatite-coated stems have performed well clinically but produced moderate proximal stress shielding and midstem cancellous condensation. Stem modification (stem shortening and distal tip polishing) has resulted in greater incidence of thigh pain. We performed a retrospective finite element analysis of the effects of stem length and surface finish to determine if midstem fixation could be avoided and the results could relate to the clinical outcomes. The modified short stem not only produced moderately less proximal bone resorption but also exhibited greater instability with 40% to 94% greater bone-implant relative motion at the stem tip. Bone formation potential at the transition between the coated and uncoated regions of both stems was observed based on changes in strain energy density. These findings are consistent with previous radiographic and clinical comparisons of short- and long-stem designs. Increased pain incidence for short-stem patients may be related to decreased implant instability and increased interface relative motion.
Journal: The Journal of Arthroplasty - Volume 24, Issue 5, August 2009, Pages 819–824