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Two type 316L stainless steel orthopedic screws broke approximately 6 weeks after surgical implant. The screws had been used to fasten a seven-hole narrow dynamic compression plate to a patient's spine. The broken screws and screws of the same vintage and source were examined using macrofractography, SEM fractography, and hardness testing. Fractography established that fracture was by fatigue and that the fatigue cracking originated at corrosion pits. Hardness while below specification, still indicated that the screws were in the cold-worked condition and notch sensitive during fatigue loading. Use of a steel with a higher molybdenum content (317L) in the annealed condition was recommended.

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Harold J. Snyder, Casey B. Snyder, Fatigue Fracture of 316L Stainless Steel Screws Employed for Surgical Implanting, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 1, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1992, p 315–317,

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