Due to the risk of adverse reactions to metal debris resulting from increased wear of the arthroplasty more than one million metal-on-metal (MoM) hip replacements worldwide are in active follow-up. Follow-up usually includes measurement of both whole blood cobalt (Co) and chromium (Cr) concentrations. Our experience is that Cr is seldom independently elevated. We wanted to ascertain whether blood Cr measurements could be omitted from follow-up protocols without lowering the quality of follow-up. We identified 8438 whole blood Co and Cr measurements performed without or prior to revision surgery. When the cut-off levels 5 µg/L and 7 µg/L were used, Cr was independently elevated in only 0.5% (95% confidence interval, CI, 0.3 to 0.6) and 0.2% (CI 0.1 to 0.3) of the measurements. The models with continuous variables showed that the higher the blood metal concentrations are the lower the percentage of measurements with Cr higher than Co. Our results suggest that whole blood Cr is very rarely independently elevated and therefore the authorities should consider omitting Cr measurements from their screening guidelines of MoM hip replacements. We believe this change in practice would simplify follow-up and lead to cost savings without decreasing the quality of follow-up.
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