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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2001 Mar;83-A(3):428-36.

Metal sensitivity in patients with orthopaedic implants.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


All metals in contact with biological systems undergo corrosion. This electrochemical process leads to the formation of metal ions, which may activate the immune system by forming complexes with endogenous proteins. Implant degradation products have been shown to be associated with dermatitis, urticaria, and vasculitis. If cutaneous signs of an allergic response appear after implantation of a metal device, metal sensitivity should be considered. Currently, there is no generally accepted test for the clinical determination of metal hypersensitivity to implanted devices. The prevalence of dermal sensitivity in patients with a joint replacement device, particularly those with a failed implant, is substantially higher than that in the general population. Until the roles of delayed hypersensitivity and humoral immune responses to metallic orthopaedic implants are more clearly defined, the risk to patients may be considered minimal. It is currently unclear whether metal sensitivity is a contributing factor to implant failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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