Plasma levels of cobalt and chromium ions and Metal Artefact Reduction Sequence (MARS)-MRI scans were performed on patients with 209 consecutive, unilateral, symptomatic metal-on-metal (MoM) hip arthroplasties. There was wide variation in plasma cobalt and chromium levels, and MARS-MRI scans were positive for adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD) in 84 hips (40%). There was a significant difference in the median plasma cobalt and chromium levels between those with positive and negative MARS-MRI scans (p < 0.001). Compared with MARS-MRI as the potential reference standard for the diagnosis of ARMD, the sensitivity of metal ion analysis for cobalt or chromium with a cut-off of > 7 µg/l was 57%. The specificity was 65%, positive predictive value was 52% and the negative predictive value was 69% in symptomatic patients. A lowered threshold of > 3.5 µg/l for cobalt and chromium ion levels improved the sensitivity and negative predictive value to 86% and 74% but at the expense of specificity (27%) and positive predictive value (44%).
Metal ion analysis is not recommended as a sole indirect screening test in the surveillance of symptomatic patients with a MoM arthroplasty. The investigating clinicians should have a low threshold for obtaining cross-sectional imaging in these patients, even in the presence of low plasma metal ion levels.
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
- Received October 5, 2011.
- Accepted March 26, 2012.
- ©2012 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery