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Articles

Date of Publish: 01/12/2011

Metal sensitivity in patients with orthopaedic implants: a prospective study

Frigerio, E., Pigatto, P. D., Guzzi, G. and Altomare, G. (2011). Contact Dermatitis, 64: 273–279. 
A total of 100 patients referred for total hip or total knee arthroplasty were assessed for metal allergy preoperatively and then at 1 year post-implantation by means of patch tests. In a pilot study, 20 patients also underwent both patch testing and a lymphocyte transformation test (LTT-MELISA®) for the same metals.  Of 31/100 patients with an apparent history of nickel sensitivity determined during preoperative assessment of subjects, 12 tested negative on both tests, and 4 with a negative history of nickel sensitivity tested positive. One year post-implantation (72 patients), 5 patients who had  initially tested negative for a metal allergy became positive for at least one or more metal constituents of the prosthesis on at least one or the other test. Given the discrepancies between the information obtained while taking patient histories and test results, preoperative history-taking alone appears to be insufficient for identifying patients with metal sensitivity. Moreover, the increase in the percentage of patients who tested positive for metal sensitivity 1 year postimplantation suggests the possibility of prosthesis-induced sensitization. Therefore, objective determination of metal sensitivity at preoperative assessment should be considered in planning arthroplasty intervention, as it would help the surgeon in selecting the most appropriate prosthesis for the patient and could benefit implant performance.


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