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Nickel LPT: Identifying and Preventing Implant Failure

In 2012, National Jewish Health Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories introduced a nickel lymphocyte proliferation test (NiLPT) to detect nickel sensitization.

Nickel lymphocyte proliferation testing is a clinically useful tool for evaluating patients undergoing initial joint replacement surgery or revision.

Specifically, patients with a prior history of sensitivity to metals can be tested before the initial joint replacement to help choose the right hardware. Patients also can be tested after joint replacement if they experience persistent pain and swelling, once an infection or a mechanical failure has been excluded, to determine if hypersensitivity to nickel in the hardware is the cause.


Backed by Ongoing Research

The NiLPT is validated against skin patch testing, with good sensitivity and excellent specificity. In fact, an ongoing study by National Jewish Health verified that the NiLPT was 68% sensitive and 98% specific for nickel hypersensitivity when compared to skin patch testing.


New Metal LPTs in Development

As the need for joint implants continues to grow, it is critical to select the appropriate implant hardware to prevent failure due to metal hypersensitivity.

Currently, Advanced Diagnostic Laboratories and the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at National Jewish Health are developing hypersensitivity tests for other common implant metals such as cobalt and chromium.