Implant allergy

The MELISA test may be used in two ways for orthopaedic patients. First, prior to surgery, patients whose clinical history suggests metal allergy may be pre-tested to ensure that they receive the most suitable implant. Second, post-surgery, MELISA can be used to identify if metal allergy is responsible for any of the symptoms that have developed.

Patients suffering from metal hypersensitivity may have numerous local symptoms associated with an overactive immune system, such as localised pain, swelling, cutaneous allergic reactions, joint and muscle pain, implant failure, apparent recurrent infections around the operation site, and possible systemic reactions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and cognitive impairment. MELISA is a scientifically proven and clinically validated blood test that detects type-IV allergy to multiple metals at the same time.

 

Metal allergy and orthopaedics

Metal allergy is a well-documented factor in the failure of implants, and the need for allergy testing in sensitive patients is well recognized by both implant manufacturers and by surgeons alike. The prevalence of metal hypersensitivity in patients with implants is significantly higher than in the general population, with an even higher rate among patients with failed or failing implanted devices.

 

Implant alloys

An exact breakdown, which includes trace amounts of metals present, is needed prior to testing, but below is a guideline. Metals usually found in common medical grade alloys include:

Cobalt chrome: cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, nickel
Stainless Steel: chromium, molybdenum, nickel, manganese
Titanium alloy I: titanium, vanadium, aluminium, traces of nickel
Titanium alloy II: titanium, aluminium, niobium, tantalum

Recently, cases of titanium allergy have also been described. Titanium is a transition metal and thus may function as a hapten and trigger cellular hypersensitivity. Since titanium, in the form of titanium dioxide (E171), is used as white pigment in toothpaste, cosmetics and medicaments, the latent sensitization of susceptible individuals is possible. Traces of nickel may be found even in commercially pure titanium due to the production process.

 

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Aesculap Implant systems brochure 2009 www.aesculapimplantsystems.com
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