Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: July 2015 - Volume 473 - Issue 7 - p 2305–2313 doi: 10.1007/s11999-015-4156-6 Clinical Research

Revision of Metal-on-metal Hip Prostheses Results in Marked Reduction of Blood Cobalt and Chromium Ion Concentrations

Lainiala, Olli, BM1; Reito, Aleksi, MD1; Elo, Petra, MD, PhD1; Pajamäki, Jorma, MD, PhD1; Puolakka, Timo, MD, PhD1; Eskelinen, Antti, MD, PhD1,a

Background High revision rates attributable to adverse reactions to metal debris have been reported for total hip arthroplasties (THAs) with metal-on-metal implants and hip resurfacings. The effect of revision on blood metal ion levels is described only in small series, the clinical results of revisions have been contradictory, and concerns regarding component loosening have been presented.


Questions/purposes We asked: (1) Did revision surgery result in a reduction to normal for whole blood cobalt (Co) and chromium (Cr) levels (2) What changes to the Oxford Hip Score were observed after revision of these hips with metal-on-metal implants? (3) Were there radiologic signs of component loosening observed on 1-year followup radiographs?


Methods Between September 2010 and April 2013, 154 patients (166 hips) who had THAs with implantation of the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR™) system and 44 patients (49 hips) who had hip resurfacings of the ASR™ implant underwent revision surgery for adverse reactions to metal debris at our institution, after recall of these components in August 2010. General indications for revision of these implants included a symptomatic hip and/or a predominantly solid pseudotumor seen on cross-sectional imaging. Since recall, patients were systematically followed after revision with Oxford Hip Score questionnaires, blood Co and Cr measurements (analyzed from whole blood with dynamic reaction-cell inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry), and plain radiographs at 2 and 12 months after revision surgery, and thereafter at 2-year intervals. Preoperative and 1-year postoperative blood Co and Cr values were available for 93% (185 of 198 patients), Oxford Hip Score for 76% (151 of 198 patients), and plain radiographs for all patients.


Results Whole-blood levels of Co decreased below the 7 ppb cut-off value in all patients with revision of unilateral THA or resurfacing, however, blood Cr levels remained elevated in four of 90 patients (4%) in the unilateral THA group and four of 34 patients (12%) in the unilateral resurfacing group. All had ultrahigh (> 40 ppb) preoperative Cr levels. Cr levels remained elevated in six of the patients at the 3-year followup. The median Oxford Hip Score improved from preoperative to 1-year postoperative in the unilateral THA group (38 [4-48] to 40 [9-48], p = 0.049) and in the unilateral hip resurfacing group (37.5 [9-48] to 44 [13-48], p = 0.011). No improvement was seen in patients who had bilateral THAs (37 [14-48] to 41 [9-48], p = 0.196). Only minor radiographic abnormalities were seen, with no suspicion of component loosening.


Conclusions Metal-on-metal THAs and resurfacings have raised concerns and an emerging rate of revisions has been seen for many different metal-on-metal hip prostheses worldwide. Revision surgery seems to be effective for removal of the systemic metal ion burden, even though blood Cr remained elevated in a few patients for more than 3 years after removal of the metal-on-metal implant. In patients with bilateral metal-on-metal hip replacements the remaining metal-on-metal implant still supplies the body with Co and Cr ions after a unilateral revision, and therefore followup should be continued. Adverse reactions to metal debris do not seem to compromise implant ingrowth after revision surgery. However, as some of our patients still had a poor functional outcome at 12 months after revision surgery, additional research is warranted to determine the optimal time for patients to undergo revision surgery for suspected adverse reactions to metal debris.


Level of Evidence Level IV, therapeutic study.

Download article