Home: Hip Replacement Complications | Metallosis

Metallosis
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Metallosis (or metal poisioning) is a condition associated with metal-on-metal implants. It first came to the attention of the general public after DePuy recalled 93,000 hip implants.

So What Is It?

All total joint replacements are made up of two parts. To take a hip joint as an example - the femur side may made of metal or ceramic and the pelvic side by metal, ceramic or polyethylene (though not all combinations are possible).

When metal-on-metal hip implants are used the two sides of the implant can rub together and, in doing so, shed tiny metal particles.

It is thought that these tiny bits of metal give rise to a response from the immune system which the soft tissue around them to become inflamed.

Symptoms

The generally accepted symptoms are:-
  • Pain - localised around the implant
  • Pseudo-tumours - these look like tumours but aren't. The cause is fluid collecting at the site.
  • Rash - this indicates necrosis (the death of tissues)
  • Osteolysis - re-absorption of bone into the body)
  • Loosening of the implant
  • Raised levels of cobalt and/or chromium in the blood

Risk Groups

Different types of body structure put more pressure on the implant, which in turn causes it to wear down faster. Higher risk groups are women, people who are obese or shorter people.

Treatment

Revision surgery is necessary to stop further shedding of metallic particles into the body.

Once the offending implant is removed the levels of cobalt and chromium levels in the blood will start to drop. However the immune system may well show a heightened sensitivity to lower levels of these metals in the future.





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