Rejection symptoms of metal hip replacements

Written by holly huntington
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Having hip replacement surgery (total hip arthroplasty) can relieve pain and possibly enable an individual to resume everyday activities without difficulty. But hip surgery isn't without potential problems, one of which can be the body's rejection of the hip replacement. This can produce symptoms of pain, swelling, and infection.

Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery involves the removal of the diseased bone(s), but it also involves the attachment of the bone replacement to be used. A prosthesis device made from metal, ceramic, or plastic is the replacement joint used in such surgeries. But the metal device (prosthesis) used during hip replacement surgery can potentially cause complications due to the metals it contains. This can result in rejection by the body.

Cobalt and Chromium Metals

Cobalt and Chromium metals---which are used in metal-on-metal hip replacements---attribute to five per cent of metal sensitivities and implant failures that are experienced during this type of surgery, according to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

This is due to the fact that such metal joints can corrode when they come in contact with body fluids. In addition, corrosion can occur due to friction between one metal hip part rubbing against another. The corrosion due to body fluids or friction causes metal debris (very small particles from the metal joint replacement) to enter the body's circulation system, elevating metal blood levels.

Metal-Related Symptoms

As the metal debris circulates through the blood, it also mixes with proteins found in the blood, and can cause an immune system reaction. If the immune system perceives the debris as foreign, an allergic reaction can result.

Such an allergic reaction can produce symptoms throughout the body--in every area that the metal debris particles have travelled too--like the lymphatic glands, spleen, liver, and the tissues near the hip replacement site. The symptoms that result can include skin rashes, eczema, fever, swelling, inflammation and pain.

Additional Complication and Symptoms

The immune system can cause another complication, which can also lead to rejection of the replacement, as well as produce other symptoms. This complication is known as osteolysis (a bone dissolving process), according to the online website Total As the white blood cells in the immune system begin to attack the metal in the replacement joint (assuming it is a foreign invader), bone can be dissolved in that area as a result, making the artificial joint less stable.

One symptom of a less stable joint can be a resulting broken bone or dislocation. Another can be damage to surrounding bone tissue in the affected area, as well as the symptoms of inflammation, bleeding or infection that can result from either.


Unfortunately, an additional hip surgery to remove the metal replacement device may become necessary in order to halt any infection or bone destruction that results from such an immune system rejection response. In these instances, ceramic replacement devices are normally used in the second surgery.

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