Thursday, February 13, 2014

Metal Hip Implant Results in Heart Transplant

A New England Journal of Medicine article recently outlined the tragic facts regarding a Denver woman.  The woman, whose identity was kept secret to protect her privacy, began having symptoms in 2011.  She gained 10 pounds on her 4'10" frame.  He abdomen was swollen, as were her arms and legs.

Doctors ordered a CT scan of her heart.  They drained the fluid, but she still felt ill.  Normally, with these symptoms, you would have an enlarged heart, but her's was normal.  She was seen by a transplant surgeon, who was baffled.  Her work-up revealed nothing.  She was placed on a transplant list and in September of 2011, she received a heart transplant.

Sometime later, orthopedic surgeons who had replaced her metal hips took blood test related to metal hips.  It was at this time that her cobalt level was  more than 300 times the normal rate.  Cobalt poisoning can seriously damage organs, particularly the heart.  The implants were removed and her cobalt level declined.  In an interview, she said "[I] have much of my old energy back."

The link to metal implants leaves many unanswered questions.  Tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people have these implants and unfortunately these types of problems continue to be reported.

It is for this reason that anyone with a metal implant should have regular blood tests for cobalt and chromium.