Case reports of patients with mal-functioning metal-on-metal hip replacement (MoMHR) prostheses suggest an association of elevated circulating metal levels with visual and auditory dysfunction. However, it is unknown if this is a cumulative exposure effect and the impact of prolonged low level exposure, relevant to the majority of patients with a well-functioning prosthesis, has not been studied. Twenty four male patients with a well-functioning MoMHR and an age and time since surgery matched group of 24 male patients with conventional total hip arthroplasty (THA) underwent clinical and electrophysiological assessment of their visual and auditory health at a mean of ten years after surgery. Median circulating cobalt and chromium concentrations were higher in patients after MoMHR versus those with THA (P<0.0001), but were within the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK) investigation threshold. Subjective auditory tests including pure tone audiometric and speech discrimination findings were similar between groups (P>0.05). Objective assessments, including amplitude and signal-to-noise ratio of transient evoked and distortion product oto-acoustic emissions (TEOAE and DPOAE, respectively), were similar for all the frequencies tested (P>0.05). Auditory brainstem responses (ABR) and cortical evoked response audiometry (ACR) were also similar between groups ( P>0.05). Ophthalmological evaluations, including self-reported visual function by visual functioning questionnaire, as well as binocular low contrast visual acuity and colour vision were similar between groups (P>0.05). Retinal nerve fibre layer thickness and macular volume measured by optical coherence tomography were also similar between groups (P>0.05). In the presence of moderately elevated metal levels associated with well-functioning implants, MoMHR exposure does not associate with clinically demonstrable visual or auditory dysfunction. © 2014 Prentice et al.
Prentice, J. R., Blackwell, C. S., Raoof, N., Bacon, P., Ray, J., Hickman, S. J., & Wilkinson, J. M. (2014). Auditory and visual health after ten years of exposure to metal-on-metal hip prostheses: A cross-sectional study follow up. PLoS ONE, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090838