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Med Sci (Paris). 2016 8-9;32(8-9):732-8. doi: 10.1051/medsci/20163208021. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

[Are the cobalt hip prosthesis dangerous?].

[Article in French]

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Service de toxicologie clinique, médico-légale, de l'environnement et en entreprise, CHU Sart-Tilman, 1 avenue de l'Hôpital, 4000 Liège, Belgique.
Service de chirurgie de l'appareil locomoteur, CHU Sart-Tilman, 1 avenue de l'Hôpital, 4000 Liège, Belgique.


The placement of a hip prosthesis is one of the most common orthopedic surgical procedures. Some implants contain metal and are therefore capable of releasing metal particles like cobalt in patients who wear metal prostheses. Cobalt can be responsible of local toxicity (including metallosis, hypersensitivity reaction, and benign tumor) or systemic toxicity (including cardiomyopathy, polycythemia, hypothyroidism, and neurological disorders). To monitor potential toxicity of metal hip prostheses, an annual monitoring of patients implanted is recommended and includes clinical examination, radiological examination and blood cobalt determination. The cobalt concentration in blood allows to estimate the risk of toxicity and to evaluate the performance of the implant. The currently recommended threshold value is equal to 7 µg of cobalt per liter of blood. Our study, conducted on 251 patients over a period of 4 years, has shown that the cobalt concentration average was 2.51 µg/l in blood, with 51 patients having a cobaltemia higher than the threshold of 7 µg/l.

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