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Overview

The release of cobalt and chromium ions into serum is well known – but what has not been topical in the Press is the same release occurs when cobalt chrome is used for other medical prostheses – such as for the spine – see the scientific paper below.

Excerpts of Note:

Lhotka et al showed that the concentrations of metal ions for chromium and cobalt 4 years after THA were 50 times higher for cobalt and up to 100 times higher for chromium ions compared with a control group.[13]

Maezawa et al also detected a statistically significant rise in the concentration of Cr ions in the serum from 1.05 to 1.61 μg/L within 3 years in 44 patients, following implantation of metal-on-metal total hip endoprostheses (Metasul).[14]

Conversely, the study group of Brodner et al showed a constant concentration of Co ions in the serum over 5 years after the implantation of Metasul Co-28Cr-6Mo-0.2C metal-on-metal hip endoprosthetics.[3]

The concentrations of cobalt and chromium ions in the serum as measured in our study amounted on average to 4.75 μg/L for cobalt and 1.93 μg/L for chromium. These values are similar or higher than the values shown in the literature following implantation of total hip endoprosthetics.[3,11,14]

Table 1. Concentrations of Cobalt and Chromium Ions for the Group of Patients 14.8 Months After Implantation of the Maverick TDA and for the Control Group.

Table 1. Concentrations of Cobalt and Chromium Ions for the Group of Patients 14.8 Months After Implantation of the Maverick TDA and for the Control Group

From Spine

Release of Cobalt and Chromium Ions Into the Serum Following Implantation of the Metal-on-Metal Maverick-Type Artificial Lumbar Disc (Medtronic Sofamor Danek)

Alexander Zeh, MD*; Michael Planert, MD*; Gabriele Siegert, MD†; Peter Lattke, PhD; Andreas Held, MD*; Werner Hein, MD*

Posted: 03/27/2007; Spine. 2007;32(3):348-352. © 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Download full Article here

Abstract

Study Design: Cross-sectional study of 10 patients to measure the serum levels of cobalt and chromium after TDA.

Objectives: To investigate the release of cobalt and chromium ions into the serum following implantation of the metal-on-metal Maverick-type artificial lumbar disc.

Summary of Background Data: In total hip endoprosthetics and consequently for TDA (total disc arthroplasty), metal-on-metal combinations are used with the aim of reducing wear debris. In metal-on-metal TDA the release of metal ions has until now been secondary to the main discussion.

Materials and Methods: We investigated the serum cobalt and chromium concentration following implantation of 15 Maverick TDAs (monosegmental L5-S1, n = 5; bisegmental L4-L5 and L5-S1, n = 5; average age, 36.5 years). Five healthy subjects (no metal implants) acted as a control group. The measurements of the metals were carried out using the HITACHI Z-8200 AAS polarized Zeeman atomic absorption spectrometer after an average of 14.8 months.

Results: The concentrations of cobalt and chromium ions in the serum amounted on average to 4.75 μg/L (SD, 2.71) for cobalt and 1.10 μg/L (SD, 1.24) for chromium. Compared with control group, both the chromium and cobalt levels in the serum showed significant increases (Mann-Whitney U test, P = 0.0120). At follow-up,the Oswestry Disability Score was on average significantly decreased by 24.4 points (L5-S1) (t test, P < 0.05) and by 26.8 points (L4-S1) (t test, P < 0.05). The improved clinical situation is also represented by a significant decrease of the Visual Analog Pain Scale of 42.2 points after the follow-up (t test, P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Significant systemic release of Cr/Co was proven in the serum compared with the control group. The concentrations of Cr/Co measured in the serum are similar in terms of their level to the values measured in THA metal-on-metal combinations or exceed these values given in the literature. Long-term implication of this metal exposure in unknown and should be studied further.

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