Diabetes as a Risk Factor for Orthopedic Implant Surface Performance: A Retrieval and In Vitro Study

Alexandra Arteaga, Jiayi Qu, Sara Haynes, Brian G. Webb, Javier LaFontaine, Danieli C. Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Orthopedic devices are often associated with increased risk for diabetic patients due to impaired wound healing capabilities. Adverse biological responses for immunocompromised patients at the implant–tissue interface can lead to significant bone resorption that may increase failure rates. The goal of this study was to characterize the surface of implants removed from diabetic patients to determine underlying mechanisms of diabetes-induced impaired osseointegration. Thirty-nine retrieved titanium and stainless-steel orthopedic devices were obtained from diabetic and non-diabetic patients, and compared to non-implanted controls. Optical Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy, and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy revealed changes in morphology, chemical composition, oxidation state, and oxide thickness of the retrieval specimens, respectively. Additionally, titanium disks were immersed for 28 days in simulated in vitro diabetic conditions followed by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy to quantify metal dissolution. Electrochemical testing was performed on specimens from retrievals and in vitro study. Aside from biological deposits, retrievals demonstrated surface discoloration, pit-like formations, and oxide thinning when compared to non-implanted controls, suggesting exposure to unfavorable acidic conditions. Cyclic load-bearing areas on fracture-fixation screws and plates depicted cracking and delamination. The corrosion behavior was not significantly different between diabetic and non-diabetic conditions of immersed disks or implant type. However, simulated diabetic conditions elevated aluminum release. This elucidates orthopedic implant failures that potentially arise from diabetic environments at the implant–tissue interface. Design of new implant surfaces should consider specific strategies to induce constructive healing responses in immunocompromised patients while also mitigating corrosion in acidic diabetic environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalJournal of Bio- and Tribo-Corrosion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Diabetes
  • Orthopedic implants
  • Retrieval
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium alloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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