Saturday, December 8, 2012

Arthroprosthetic cobaltism: identification of the at-risk patient.

2010 Sep;52:28-32.



Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic 3260 Providence Drive, Suite 200, Anchorage, AK 99508-4603, USA.


MoM hip bearings are being scrutinized due to high early failure rates and concerns that the results of the revision surgeries will be poor. However, orthopedic surgeons and the general medical community are unaware that patients with MoM bearings are also at risk for cobaltism. Medical providers need to know that hip arthroplasty implantees that present with symptom complexes that include tinnitus, deafness, vertigo, visual changes, rashes, hypothyroidism, tremor, dyspnea on exertion, mood disorders, dementia, heart failure, and peripheral neuropathy may be presenting arthroprosthetic cobaltism. These patients need to be asked if they have had a hip replacement and if so what type. For those patients implanted with a MoM bearing or those with a history of hip revision for a failed ceramic bearing obtaining a [Co] is indicated. MoM implantees with renal failure are a particularly high risk for cobaltism. A [Co] can be measured by many reference laboratories from royal blue top trace elements tube of venous blood. Venipuncture with a standard needle is adequate as long as a red stoppered tube is drawn first. The radiographic appearance of a MoM bearing is readily apparent to an orthopedic surgeon. The patient's operative report will usually specify the bearing type. Given that the publicity of the recent ASR bearing recall medical providers will be contacted by worried patients concerned about their hip implants. Most patients with hip replacements will not know the brand or material of their bearings. Providing patients with copies of their hip implant inventory might avoid worry by the majority of patients with hip arthroplasties that are not at risk. Patients with a cobalt levels of greater than 7 mcg/l bear observation of neurologic and cardiac function. Those patients with levels greater than 20 should be advised to have revision of their hip arthroplasty to a bearing that eliminates cobalt. Most patients implanted with MoM bearing have cobalt levels greater than those allowed in industry and cobalt exposed workers may have an increased incidence of subclinical cognitive and cardiac impairments. This association merits further study. Table 1 is a summation of the previously referenced data of this paper that might assist the clinician in interpreting a [Co]

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