Background: Total hip replacements with metal-on-metal bearings are
frequently implanted in young, active patients. The relationship between
patient activity and cobalt and chromium ion levels has not been investigated,
to our knowledge.
Methods: Seven patients with well-functioning metal-on-metal bearing
hip prostheses and one control subject (no implants), all with normal renal
function, were monitored during a two-week-long activity protocol.
Lower-extremity activity was continuously assessed with use of a computerized,
two-dimensional accelerometer. During the first week, the subjects were
requested to limit physical activity. The subjects then completed an hour-long
treadmill test followed by a week in which they were encouraged to be as
physically active as practically possible. Serum levels of cobalt and chromium
ions and urine levels of chromium were assessed at ten time-points during
these two weeks.
Results: Regardless of activity, the serum ion levels for a given
patient were essentially constant and no correlation was found between patient
activity and serum levels of cobalt or chromium, or urine levels of chromium.
A mean increase in activity of 28% during the week of high-intensity activity
was associated with a mean decrease of 2.7% in the serum cobalt level and a
mean increase of 2.0% in the serum chromium level. During the treadmill test,
a mean increase in activity of 1621% was associated with a mean increase of
3.0% in the serum cobalt level and a mean increase of 0.8% in the serum
chromium level. These results fall within the variability for the measurement
accuracy of these tests.
Conclusions: For these patients, serum cobalt and chromium ion
levels were not acutely affected by patient activity. Periodic measurements of
serum ion levels could be used to monitor the tribologic (lubrication,
friction, and wear) performance of a metal-on-metal bearing without adjusting
for patient activity. Additional research is needed into the kinetics of ion
production, transport, and excretion.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions
to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.