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Abstract

A type 316L stainless steel “Jewett nail” hip implant failed after 2 months of service. Fracture occurred through the first of five screw holes in the plate section. Microscopic examination of mating fracture surfaces showed that failure had initiated at the outside (convex) surface of the plate and proceeded through its thickness. The fracture morphology was characteristic of fatigue. A beveled area on the inside surface of the plate indicated that the implant had been fractured for some time prior to removal. Metallographic examination of samples cut from the plate section revealed a series of hidden repair welds on the inside surface of the plate in the vicinity of the fracture. Comparison of the microstructure in the area of the fracture with that in an area away from the weld indicated that the repair welding had resulted in the creation of an annealed, softened zone. Manufacturers should never attempt to salvage this type of critical device by welding or any other procedure that might compromise its integrity.

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Carmine D'Antonio, 1993. "Failure of a Stainless Steel Hip Fracture Fixation Device", Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Khlefa A. Esaklul

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