© 2012 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 30:1640–1646, 2012

Differential distribution of cobalt, chromium, and nickel between whole blood, plasma and urine in patients after metal‐on‐metal (MoM) hip arthroplasty

Ashley W. Newton Lakshminarayan Ranganath Catherine Armstrong Viju Peter Norman B. Roberts

Evidence shows that raised cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), and nickel (Ni) whole blood concentrations correlate with poor device outcome in patients following metal‐on‐metal (MoM) hip arthroplasty. To understand the local and systemic pathological effects of these raised metal concentrations it is important to define their distribution between whole blood, plasma, and urine. The metals were measured by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS). Two hundred and five plasma, 199 whole blood, and 24 sets of urine samples were analyzed from 202 patients with Co–Cr alloy MoM hip prostheses implanted between 8 months to 12 years (mean 6.0 years) prior to analysis. Plasma Co (median 39.1 nmol/L) showed significantly positive 1:1 correlation with whole blood Co (median 45.9 nmol/L; R2 = 0.98, p < 0.001, slope = 1.0). Plasma Cr (median 53.8 nmol/L) and whole blood Cr (median 40.3 nmol/L) were also correlated; however, concentrations were significantly higher in plasma indicating relatively little blood cell uptake (R2 = 0.96, p < 0.001, slope = 1.6). Urinary Co was up to threefold higher than Cr (median 334.0 vs. 97.3 nmol/L respectively). Nickel concentrations in whole blood, plasma, and urine were low relative to Co and Cr. The analysis shows fundamental differences in the physiological handling of these metals: Co is distributed approximately equally between blood cells and plasma, whereas Cr is mainly in plasma, despite which, Cr had far less renal excretion than Co.

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