Heavy metal poisoning pdf-on-metal hip implants can shed metal particles into the body, causing metallosis or metal poisoning. Symptoms include bone and tissue death, implant failure and severe pain. Learn how some hip implants caused metal poisoning, who is at risk and how doctors treat metallosis. Read about symptoms and signs of metal poisoning.
These devices are made from a blend of several different metals, including chromium, cobalt, nickel, titanium and molybdenum. When the metal parts rub against each other, they release microscopic metal particles into the blood and surrounding tissues. Metal poisoning occurs when toxic levels of metal build up in the body. This can cause damage to tissue, bone and the nervous system. People can be exposed to high levels of metal through their environment and diet.
Unapproved or counterfeit medications and natural remedies may also contain aluminum, mercury, lead or uranium. But people can also get metal poisoning from metal-on-metal hip or knee replacements. If you’ve suffered from metallosis complications, we can help. A small number of people may have sensitivities to these materials. Allergies to nickel are the most common causes of metal poisoning. People who smoke may have a greater risk of metallosis.
A study reported at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2012 annual meeting in San Francisco found the metal-on-metal implant failure rate for smokers was 9. 1 percent compared with 3. Each of these components is made of cobalt and chromium. Both total hip replacement and hip resurfacing systems can cause metallosis, though the rate is higher with resurfacing components. Hip replacement surgery resulting in metallosis can lead to serious complications affecting the nervous system, skin and other organs.
James Pritchett found that symptoms evolved over several months and were present within the first four years after surgery. Pain is not always an indicator of metallosis. For example, 18 percent of hip resurfacing patients had groin pain, but only 2 to 5 percent had metallosis. Because each person can react differently to high levels of cobalt, the symptoms of metallosis may vary.
The symptoms of metallosis correspond to the level of metal ions in the blood and become more severe as the levels rise. With tissue or bone necrosis, the tissue around the implant turns gray or black from being exposed to the metal debris. This creates pain and instability, which can lead to spontaneous dislocation, bone loss and fracture. On occasion, non-cancerous pockets of fluid called pseudotumors will form around the affected tissue.
The fluid from these pockets or effusions contains gray, rusty or cloudy yellow fluid. In addition to tissue reactions around the joint, high levels of cobalt in the blood can also cause other symptoms. A metallosis link to cancer has not been proven, but the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer lists cobalt and trivalent, a type of chromium, as potential carcinogens. After thousands of metal-on-metal implants failed, the London Implant Retrieval Centre released test results confirming that the implants released trivalent chromium ions.