Joint Replacement Metal Toxicity

The enquiry was regarding Chromium and Cobalt prosthesis, but the information is equally relevant to other metal alloys....

Hip prostheses are made from orthopaedic metal alloys, specially produced for fabrication of artificial joints. The Cobalt-Chrome alloys tend to contain the base metals cobalt (> 34%) and chrome (>19%) mixed with smaller quantities of other metals, even nickel.

With Titanium alloys the base metal is titanium of course, commercially used with 4% aluminium.

Stainless Steel alloys are base metal is iron (> 58%), mixed with larger quantities of chrome and nickel and some other metals.

Titanium is the best tolerated form by bone tissue however.

Metallic alloys used for fabrication of artificial joints do have the potential for corrosion when in contact with body fluids. Although the orthopedic alloys are very resistant to corrosion, their surface dissolves and the dissolved metals enter the circulation.

The metallic ions of these metals (Cobalt, Chromium, Nickel, but also the relatively inert Titanium) may combine with proteins in the body and trigger allergic immune responses. One such allergy reaction is skin rash, for example. The concentration of the metals in the blood can increase with time.

The most likely circumstances for corrosion, and hence release of metal alloy into the bloodstream, occurs either when two dissimilar metals are in contact. So if your hip replacement is ALL cobalt-chrome corrosion would be more likely to be minimal, and hence less harmful to health. However, if, say, the ball is made from Cobalt-Chrome and the stem from Titanium alloy, the corrosion may be at a higher rate, as these two metals can reaction with one another, and metal release into the system may be higher.

This can also be the case on metal-on-metal total hip joints, which may wear faster with production of many small particles of metal alloys. These small particles can corrode and dissolve in the body fluids.

Trace-metals Cobalt and Chromium are a part of body's enzyme system, and there is no proof that elevated serum levels of Cobalt, Chrome, or Titanium produce pathological changes in hip replacement patients. However this is a relatively unstudied area. Therefore the question of the long-term effects of orthopedic metals (Cobalt, Chromium, and Titanium) on patients with total hip replacement is still not fully known.

Chromium and Cobalt are excreted by kidneys. Therefore unless you have impaired renal function the blood concentrations of these metals are likely to be low and not worrying in terms of general health.

If you feel you have a concern with regards to heavy metal corrosion of a metal joint replacement, the first advice would be to have some simple blood tests to test for any levels, and importantly what these levels are. This will give you more information as to whether you have reason to consider further treatment specific to actual chelation. Depending on the results, different levels or metals involved may result in different advice for treatment, conventionally and naturally.

In the meantime, it is a good idea to protect your immune system, both due to the potential reaction sensitivity mentioned above, and also to help protect against any such relating health issues.

I would choose our Total Balance Premium and ranges for general health protection and enhancement. I would also consider adding to help with immune system enhancement more specifically if you are a joint replacement patient.

Ensure that your general health, diet and fluids, is also as healthy and optimal as possible to give your body the best resistance to degenerative disease.