header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock

The toxicity of metals used in orthopaedic prostheses. An experimental study using cultured human synovial fibroblasts

Download PDF


Some of the component metals of the alloys used for total joint prostheses are toxic and dissolve in the body fluids. It is important to establish how toxic these metals are and to assess the risk of localised tissue necrosis around the prostheses. This has been investigated by incubating primary monolayer cultures of human synovial fibroblasts with various preparations of metals for periods up to 18 days. Morphological changes were evident after exposure to cobalt chloride at a concentration of 50 nanomoles per millilitre and to nickel chloride at 200 nanomoles per millilitre. Chromic chloride, ammonium molybdate and ferric chloride produced no changes up to 500 nanomoles per millilitre. Cultures exposed to particulate pure metals were poisoned by cobalt and vanadium but were not affected under the same conditions by nickel, chromium, molybdenum, titanium or aluminium. Particulate cobalt and vanadium were probably toxic due to their relatively high solubility (four and one micromoles per millilitre respectively after seven days incubation). Particulate nickel also dissolved (three nanomoles per millilitre after seven days) but not in sufficient quantities to be toxic. It appears, therefore, that potentially the most harmful components are cobalt from cobalt-chromium alloy, nickel from stainless steel, and vanadium from titanium alloy. As far as can be estimated, the only combination of materials which is likely to give rise to toxic levels of metal under clinical conditions, is cobalt-chromium alloy articulating against itself to produce relatively high levels of cobalt.

For access options please click here