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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 76-B, Issue 5 | Pages 701 - 712
1 Sep 1994
Case C Langkamer V James C Palmer M Kemp A Heap P Solomon L

In a post-mortem study, we compared subjects with metal implants with and without visible wear with an age-matched control group to determine the extent and effects of dissemination of wear debris. In subjects with stainless-steel and cobalt-chrome prostheses metal was found in local and distant lymph nodes, bone marrow, liver and spleen. The levels were highest in subjects with loose, worn joint prostheses and the main source of the debris was the matt coating. Metal levels were also raised in subjects with implants without visible wear and, to a less extent, in those with dynamic hip screws. Necrosis of lymph nodes was seen in those cases with the most wear, and potential damage to more distant organs such as the bone marrow, liver and spleen in the long term cannot be discounted. The consequences for the immune system and the role of metal dissemination in the possible induction of neoplasia are discussed.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 74-B, Issue 6 | Pages 831 - 839
1 Nov 1992
Langkamer V Case C Heap P Taylor A Collins C Pearse M Solomon L

The production of particulate wear debris is a recognised complication of joint arthroplasty, but interest has concentrated on local tissue reactions and a possible association with implant loosening. The fate of wear products in the body remains unknown, although some of the metals used in the construction of orthopaedic implants are known to have toxic and oncogenic properties. We report histological and electron-microscopic evidence from two cases which shows that metallic debris can be identified in the lymphoreticular tissues of the body distant from the hip some years after joint replacement. The increase in the use of total arthroplasty in younger patients, the development of new alloys and the use of porous coatings must raise concern for the long-term effects of the accumulation of wear debris in the body.