Hip Metal Sensitivity

Could You Be Allergic to Your Hip Implant?

The surprising answer to this question is yes.

While the majority of patients might not make the association between a hip implant and allergies, for anyone who has ever had an adverse reaction to things like jewelry, watches or metal pant buttons, the link is much clearer and more important. That's because your body's potential reaction to an orthopaedic implant may be predicted by your skin's reaction to items containing nickel or chromium - two metals present in cobalt chrome and in most metal hip implants. In many cases, sensitivity to these allergens has resulted in revisions for joint replacement patients.1-4

allergy chart

While studies show that less than 10% of the population has a sensitivity to these metals1, it is possible to develop new allergies over the course of your lifetime. Although it is not clear what triggers new allergies, studies have shown that the rate of metal allergy increases to 25% in people who have a metal implant in their body and to 60% of patients who need to have their first implant surgically replaced.5

VERILAST? Technology uses our proprietary OXINIUM? oxidized zirconium for the hip ball rather than the more commonly used cobalt chrome. Our OXINIUM alloy has less than 0.0035% nickel content, and less than 0.02% chromium content compared to up to 0.5% and 30.0% respectively in cobalt chrome.6 Moreover, oxidized zirconium is a nearly inert material that has not been reported to induce immune reactions.7

allergy chart

Important Safety Notes:

Hip replacement surgery is intended to relieve hip pain and improve hip function. However, implants may not produce the same feel or function as your original hip. There are potential risks with hip replacement surgery such as loosening, fracture, dislocation, wear and infection that may result in the need for additional surgery. Longevity of implants depends on many factors, such as types of activities and weight. Do not perform high impact activities such as running and jumping unless your surgeon tells you the bone has healed and these activities are acceptable. Early device failure, breakage or loosening may occur if you do not follow your surgeon's limitations on activity level. Early failure can happen if you do not guard your hip joint from overloading due to activity level, failure to control body weight, or accidents such as falls. Talk to your doctor to determine what treatment may be best for you.

1 Hallab NJ, Anderson S, Stafford T, Glant T, Jacobs JJ. "Lymphocyte responses in patients with total hip arthroplasty." J Orthop Res 2005; 232:384e91.
2 Niki, Yasuo et al. "Screening for symptomatic metal sensitivity: a prospective study of 92 patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty." Biomaterials 26 (2005) 1019-1026
3 Nesser, s. "Biology of foreign bodies: tolerance, osteolysis, and allergy", Total Knee Arthroplasty, J. Bellemans, M.D. Ries, and J. Victor (eds.), Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 2005, pp. 343-352
4 Granchi, Donatella et al. "Sensitivity to implant materials in patients with total knee arthroplasties." Biomaterials 29 (2008) 1494-1500
5 ASTM International Standard Specification for Wrought Zirconium-2.5Niobium Alloy for Surgical Implant Applications (UNS R60901) Designation: F 2384 - 05 and Standard Specification for Cobalt-28 Chromium-6 Molybdenum Alloy Castings and Casting Alloy for Surgical Implants (UNS R30075): Designation: F 75 - 07
6 Hallab, Nadim et al. Metal Sensitivity in Patients with Orthopaedic Implants, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Vol 83-A No. 3. March 2001 p428-436
7 Zardiackas, Lyle D., Kraay, Matthew J., Freese, Howard L, editors. Titanium, Niobium, Zirconium, and Tantalum for Medical and Surgical Applications ASTM special technical publication; 1471. Ann Arbor, MI: ASTM, Dec. 2005

The information listed on this site is for informational and educational purposes and is not meant as medical advice. Every patient's case is unique and each patient should follow his or her doctor's specific instructions. Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation.


All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2015 Smith & Nephew, All Rights Reserved.