Of the one million joints replaced yearly in the U.S., about ten percent of them will fail. Typical symptoms may include:
Chronic pain and swelling
Skin inflammation and dermatitis
Impaired wound healing
Chronic joint effusions
Itching or burning
When infection and biomechanical issues have been ruled out, metal or bone cement allergy may be the cause.
Karin Pacheco, MD, MSPH, director of the MetAlls Clinic at National Jewish Health, states, “We have seen more than 230 patients over the last two years for unexplained chronic problems after joint replacement. We found that about half of them were allergic to either the metal in the joint hardware or to the bone cement used to adhere the prosthesis.”
The MetAlls Clinic offers individualized diagnostics for metal and bone cement allergy. The patch test panels include a selection of most metals used in orthopedic hardware, as well as the different components of bone cement. The nickel lymphocyte proliferation test has been validated against patch testing. In October, a summary of the study and results of the NiLPT validation were submitted by Dr. Pacheco for peer review and publication.
Indications for Referral
Unexplained chronic pain and/or swelling following a joint replacement
Allergy information required for selection of index hardware, important for the patient with a prior history of metal or artificial nail sensitivity
To refer a patient directly to the MetAlls Clinic at National Jewish Health, call Physician Line at 800.652.9555, choose option 2 and request extension 1723.