Intercrystalline Corrosion on Cerclage Wire of Sensitized 304 Type Stainless Steel
Cerclage wire, which was used with two screws and washers for a tension band in a corrective internal fixation, was found broken at several points and corroded after nine months in service. The material was examined using energy-dispersive x-ray analysis and determined not to be in compliance with standards (type 304 stainless steel without molybdenum). The screws and washers were found to be made of remelted implant-quality type 316L stainless steel and were intact. Signs of sensitization, characterized by chromium carbide precipitates at the grain boundaries, were revealed by the microstructure. Intercrystalline corrosion with pitted grains was indicated by SEM fractography. Improper heat treatment of the steel was interpreted to have led to intercrystalline corrosion and implant separation.