SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 October 1979

Fundamental Aspects of the Corrosion of Metallic Implants


The corrosion of metals in the aqueous environments of body fluids involves the setting up of electrochemical corrosion cells. The corrosion produced by these cells is controlled by thermodynamic and kinetic factors. The thermodynamic factors determine the corrosion tendencies; the kinetic factors determine the rate. Galvanic corrosion is affected by both thermodynamic and kinetic factors and occurs when two metals with widely differing potentials are placed in contact with each other. Other forms of corrosion depend more directly on factors controlling the rate of corrosion. For most alloys used in implants the corrosion rate is mainly dependent on the protective properties of the thin passive films that exist on the surfaces of these alloys. The quality of the protection afforded by passive films is related to their ability to resist chemical breakdown by damaging species and, once broken down, their ability to reform rapidly (repassivate). The interplay between breakdown and repassivation is important in determining the susceptibility of metallic implants to pitting, crevice corrosion, stress corrosion, corrosion fatigue, intergranular corrosion, and fretting corrosion.

Author Information

Kruger, J
National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C.
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Developed by Committee: F04
Pages: 107–127
DOI: 10.1520/STP35940S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4751-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0313-9