Metal Allergies and Surgery

Allergies to common replacement joint metals could affect options

That rash you developed after wearing earrings made of nickel could determine what types of metal to use in your upcoming knee replacement surgery. Results from a study of joint replacement patients were presented by Karin Pacheco, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2014 Meeting in March in New Orleans.

In the study, 23 patients with previous metal allergies were given a pre-op skin patch. In all, 74% tested positive for sensitivity to metal. Testing was also performed on 83 patients with unexplained stiffness and pain post-op. More than half (53%) also tested positive for metal allergies. Patients were most sensitive to nickel, followed by cobalt, a combination of nickel/cobalt, then chromium, bone cement extract, bone cement and benzoyl peroxide.

If you’re allergic to common replacement joint metals, substitutions with less allergenic materials, such as titanium or zirconium, may be in order.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons