Allergy to orthopedic metal implants - a prospective study

Beata Kręcisz, Marta Kieć-Świerczyńska, Dorota Chomiczewska-Skóra
International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2012, 25 (4): 463-9

OBJECTIVES: Evaluation of the allergenic properties of the metal knee or hip joint implants 24 months post surgery and assessment of the relation between allergy to metals and metal implants failure.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was conducted in two stages. Stage I (pre-implantation) - 60 patients scheduled for arthroplasty surgery. Personal interview, dermatological examination and patch testing with 0.5% potassium dichromate, 1.0% cobalt chloride, 5.0% nickel sulfate, 2.0% copper sulfate, 2.0% palladium chloride, 100% aluminum, 1% vanadium chloride, 5% vanadium, 10% titanium oxide, 5% molybdenum and 1% ammonium molybdate tetrahydrate were performed. Stage II (post-surgery) - 48 subjects participated in the same procedures as those conducted in Stage I.

RESULTS: Stage I - symptoms of "metal dermatitis" were found in 21.7% of the subjects: 27.9% of the females, 5.9% of the males. Positive patch test results were found in 21.7% of the participants, namely to: nickel (20.0%); palladium (13.3%); cobalt (10.0%); and chromium (5.9%). The allergy to metals was confirmed by patch testing in 84.6% of the subjects with a history of metal dermatitis. Stage II - 10.4% of the participants complained about implant intolerance, 4.2% of the examined persons reported skin lesions. Contact allergy to metals was found in 25.0% of the patients: nickel 20.8%, palladium 10.4%, cobalt 16.7%, chromium 8.3%, vanadium 2.1% Positive post-surgery patch tests results were observed in 10.4% of the patients. The statistical analysis of the pre- and post-surgery patch tests results showed that chromium and cobalt can be allergenic in implants.

CONCLUSIONS: Metal orthopedic implants may be the primary cause of allergies. that may lead to implant failure. Patch tests screening should be obligatory prior to providing implants to patients reporting symptoms of metal dermatitis. People with confirmed allergies to metals should be provided with implants free from allergenic metals.

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