What is metallosis? My stepmother had this after spinal fusion surgery. She had to have a second operation. I live out of town and no one in the family seemed to know what this was except that it caused a reaction to the implant.
Metallosis is the result of the body reacting to a metal implant. The immune system sees this device as foreign. It mounts a defense against the prosthesis (implant) and tries to rid itself of it. Inflammation and scarring around the implant are the result.
Anytime there is metal-on-metal, tiny flecks of metal are shaved off and released into the area. The particles are called debris. Debris of this kind set up a foreign-body reaction.
Bone and soft tissue can be destroyed as the body tries to respond to the metal ions. The final result can be failure of the implant. Bone loss results in loosening of the device.
Fracture, infection, or loosening of the implant often requires a second surgery. The prosthesis (implant) is removed and replaced with bone grafts and/or another device. This second surgery is called a revision.
Vincenzo Denaro, MD, PhD, et al. Periprosthetic Electrochemical Corrosion of Titanium and Titanium-Based Alloys as a Cause of Spinal Fusion Failure. In Spine. January 2008. Vol. 33. No. 1. Pp. 8-13.
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