Metal-on-Metal Implant Toxicity

Area of expertise: Health & Care Systems

Recent research within the Cell and Tissue Engineering group is having a major impact on the treatment of patients requiring hip replacement surgery. Metal-on-Metal (MOM) implants have been commonly used in such surgery for many years.

However, research led by Professor Mary Grant within the Department of Biomedical Engineering, in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons at the Southern General Hospital, and colleagues within the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, revealed that metal ions released from a particular type of MOM implant produced damaging effects in the cells surrounding the implant.

Crucially, the team also found that these ions were distributed systemically and accumulated within various organs in the body.

These findings played an important part in the withdrawal of this particular type of implant from the market and a subsequent decline in the use of MOM implants more generally.

Increased awareness of this issue led directly to close monitoring of patients with MOM implants, and setting of an agreed safe limit for metal ion concentrations in blood by the UK regulatory body, MHRA.

The research team are continuing to investigate the effects of nanoparticulate metal wear debris and metal ion release on cells of the immune and cardiovascular systems, and the CNS.

Advances are now being made to determine the mechanisms responsible for their adverse effects in patients.

Find out more about this particular area of research and the work of the Cell and Tissue Engineering group more generally