Synchrotron analysis of human organ tissue exposed to implant material

Ilona Swiatkowska, J. Fred W. Mosselmans, Tina Geraki, Cody C. Wyles, Joseph J. Maleszewski, Johann Henckel, Barry Sampson, Dominic B. Potter, Ibtisam Osman, Robert T. Trousdale, Alister J. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Orthopaedic implants made of cobalt-chromium alloy undergo wear and corrosion that can lead to deposition of cobalt and chromium in vital organs. Elevated cardiac tissue cobalt levels are associated with myocardial injury while chromium is a well-established genotoxin. Though metal composition of tissues surrounding hip implants has been established, few investigators attempted to characterize the metal deposits in systemic tissues of total joint arthroplasty patients. Methods We report the first use of micro-X-ray fluorescence coupled with micro-X-ray absorption spectroscopy to probe distribution and chemical form of cobalt, chromium and titanium in postmortem samples of splenic, hepatic and cardiac tissue of patients with metal-on-polyethylene hip implants (n = 5). Results Majority of the cobalt was in the 2+ oxidation state, while titanium was present exclusively as titanium dioxide, in either rutile or anatase crystal structure. Chromium was found in a range of forms including a highly oxidised, carcinogenic species (CrV/VI), which has never been identified in human tissue before. Conclusions Carcinogenic forms of chromium might arise in vital organs of total joint arthroplasty patients. Further studies are warranted with patients with metal-on-metal implants, which tend to have an increased release of cobalt and chromium compared to metal-on-polyethylene hips.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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