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Contact Dermatitis. 2012 Jan;66(1):4-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2011.01971.x. Epub 2011 Sep 29.

Hypersensitivity reactions to metallic implants - diagnostic algorithm and suggested patch test series for clinical use.

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Department of Dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Cutaneous and systemic hypersensitivity reactions to implanted metals are challenging to evaluate and treat. Although they are uncommon, they do exist, and require appropriate and complete evaluation. This review summarizes the evidence regarding evaluation tools, especially patch and lymphocyte transformation tests, for hypersensitivity reactions to implanted metal devices. Patch test evaluation is the gold standard for metal hypersensitivity, although the results may be subjective. Regarding pre-implant testing, those patients with a reported history of metal dermatitis should be evaluated by patch testing. Those without a history of dermatitis should not be tested unless considerable concern exists. Regarding post-implant testing, a subset of patients with metal hypersensitivity may develop cutaneous or systemic reactions to implanted metals following implant. For symptomatic patients, a diagnostic algorithm to guide the selection of screening allergen series for patch testing is provided. At a minimum, an extended baseline screening series and metal screening is necessary. Static and dynamic orthopaedic implants, intravascular stent devices, implanted defibrillators and dental and gynaecological devices are considered. Basic management suggestions are provided. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive reference for use by those evaluating suspected cutaneous and systemic metal hypersensitivity reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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