Individuals with advanced hip disease suffer from pain, impaired hip function, and decreased quality of life. Roughly one million metal-on-metal (MoM) hip prostheses have been implanted worldwide in order to ameliorate these issues. While most MoM hip replacements are successful, some patients suffer from serious adverse effects secondary to the release of metal debris due to implant wear and corrosion. MoM hip prostheses are comprised predominantly of cobalt and chromium, and the serum concentration of these metal ions has been shown to correlate with both implant wear and the accumulation of metal debris in the periprosthetic tissue. Consequently, measurement of cobalt and chromium concentrations may be useful in the assessment of implant function and the potential for adverse effects in the follow-up of patients with MoM hip prostheses. The purpose of this Mini Review is to describe the adverse biological consequences of metal release from hip prostheses, provide an overview of the clinical utility of cobalt and chromium measurement and the current recommendations for testing, and alert laboratorians and physicians to the many challenges associated with measuring these metal ions.
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