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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 87-B, Issue 10 | Pages 1439 - 1444
1 Oct 2005
Davies AP Sood A Lewis AC Newson R Learmonth ID Case CP

Previous research has shown an increase in chromosomal aberrations in patients with worn implants. The type of aberration depended on the type of metal alloy in the prosthesis. We have investigated the metal-specific difference in the level of DNA damage (DNA stand breaks and alkali labile sites) induced by culturing human fibroblasts in synovial fluid retrieved at revision arthroplasty.

All six samples from revision cobalt-chromium metal-on-metal and four of six samples from cobalt-chromium metal-on-polyethylene prostheses caused DNA damage. By contrast, none of six samples from revision stainless-steel metal-on-polyethylene prostheses caused significant damage. Samples of cobalt-chromium alloy left to corrode in phosphate-buffered saline also caused DNA damage and this depended on a synergistic effect between the cobalt and chromium ions.

Our results further emphasise that epidemiological studies of orthopaedic implants should take account of the type of metal alloy used.