Sensitivity to implant materials in patients undergoing total hip replacement

Donatella Granchi, Elisabetta Cenni, Giovanni Trisolino, Armando Giunti, Nicola Baldini
Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. Part B, Applied Biomaterials 2006, 77 (2): 257-64
Sensitivity to implant materials is an unpredictable event, which may contribute to the process leading to the failure of the total hip replacement (THR). The aim of the current study was to investigate the informative power of skin testing in detecting the sensitization to the implant components in patients undergoing THR. A consecutive series of 223 patients was enrolled in the study, including 66 candidates to THR, 53 with stable implant, and 104 with THR loosening. The patch testing was performed by using the most relevant components of cobalt-based alloys (CoCrMo), Ti-based alloys (TiAlV), and bone cements. The frequency of positive patch testing in preimplant patients did not differ from that observed after THR. Patients with CoCrMo-failed implant showed a significant low frequency of nickel-positive skin reaction, while patients with TiAlV-THR had a high incidence of vanadium-positive patch testing. The panel of haptens showed a good performance in the identification of patients known to have a contact dermatitis. With regard to the THR outcome, patch testing was not able to discriminate between stable and failed implant. Sensitivity to at least one hapten, namely bone cement, as well as the positive medical history of hypersensitivity, influenced negatively the THR survival. Our results show the reliability of patch testing for investigating the sensitivity to implant components. The cause-effect relationship between sensitization and negative outcome cannot be established, but the shorter lifespan of THR in patients who have a positive patch testing supports the significant role of this event in contributing to the implant failure.

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