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Some Hip Implants May be Toxic to the Brain

  • Synopsis: Published: 2017-06-06 - Recent research reveals brain injury from highly toxic metal cobalt alloy leeched from failing artificial joints causing brain toxicity can be detected and measured. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Health Watch USA at

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Quote: "Cobalt may be the 'new mercury' that needs to be dealt with - Robert Bridges, MD."

Areas of the brain that control memory, vision, personality and movement can be damaged by the highly toxic metal cobalt used to make the artificial joints. Recent research has found using advanced brain imaging and computer analysis, the areas and amount of brain injury from cobalt alloy leeched from a failing artificial joint causing brain toxicity can be detected and measured.

All artificial joints made with cobalt alloy may wear down and corrode leaking highly toxic cobalt into the bloodstream which can eventually injure the brain. This toxicity was unanticipated and despite cobalt being a major component of artificial joints, its long-term safety has not been extensively studied. In comparison, other heavy metals such as mercury, lead and manganese have abundant scientific research detailing their known toxicity. Dr. Stephen Tower, a Health Watch USA Board Member, has discussed this problem in a recent commentary along with several recent reports that are now calling attention to the long-term dangers of cobalt containing implants and their all too common toxicity.

  • 1) A Systematic Review of Systemic Cobaltism After Wear or Corrosion of Chrome-Cobalt Hip Implants.
  • 2) Neuropsychiatric symptoms following metal-on-metal implant failure with cobalt and chromium toxicity

Unfortunately, removal of these implants involves a major surgical procedure and there is not a reliable laboratory test to predict brain toxicity. However, utilizing PET brain scans brain diseases can be detected years before they become clinically evident. These scans provide a straightforward and repeatable test to detect and measure early injury to critical areas of the brain and can be used to monitor treatment.

Stephen Tower, MD and Robert Bridges, MD have researched cobalt toxicity and what parts of the brain it affects. Their findings will be presented at this year's international meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging in Denver.

Video Clip: Complications of Wear or Corrosion of Chrome-Cobalt Hip Implants

In this video clip StephenTower, MD, discusses cobalt poisoning found with hip-implants due to corrosion and wear. This complication has been observed even in implants with a plastic socket. Patients have been found to be at risk for encephalopathy and have changes on PET scans. The diagnosis of this complication along with its impact on the patient and society are discussed.

With millions of Americans having implanted cobalt alloy artificial joints, early detection of brain injury from silently wearing down or corroding artificial joints may prevent lasting brain damage.

As aptly summarized by Robert Bridges, MD, "Cobalt may be the 'new mercury' that needs to be dealt with. With better and safer ceramics, metal alloys and plastics, cobalt's use in artificial joints needs to be reconsidered."

Related Information:

  1. DePuy Hip Implants and Chromium Metal Dangers - Information regarding DePuy Hip Implants and the dangers of elevated levels of chromium in the blood - Disabled World
  2. Nanoscale Films for Hip Implants Could Prevent Premature Failure - Nanoscale films promote bone growth and creates a stronger seal between implant and the bone - MIT News Office
  3. Metal-on-Metal Hips - AAOS Responds to FDA's Public Health Communication - According to the AAOS patients have several options for hip replacement implants each with its own advantages and potential drawbacks - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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