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Metallosis and Metal Poisoning: Do You Know the Difference?

Metallosis is a serious medical condition that results when metallic debris builds up in the body’s tissues. Before 2010, very few people had heard of metallosis. In 2010, the condition became better known when a study linked metallosis to DePuy ASR hip implants. Patients with the ASR implants were far more likely to experience adverse reactions caused by metallic particles than patients who received other hip implants.

The ASR implants are designed in a way that causes the metal components to rub against each other during daily use. This causes the metal to break down releasing metal ions into the blood stream and the surrounding tissues. This can lead to two severe effects: metallosis and metal poisoning.


With metallosis, the body’s immune system recognizes the metal particles as foreign. It tries to fight them off, but the immune system is designed to fight germs—not metal. The immune response causes inflammation in the tissues around the metal. The patient feels severe pain and has difficulty moving the joint.

Other symptoms of metallosis include:

  • Pain and inflammation near the implant
  • Dislocation of the implant
  • Osteolysis or the reabsorption of bone
  • Necrosis or tissue death
  • Pseudo-tumors

Metallosis has been linked to cancer.

Metal poisoning

The ASR joints are made of a cobalt-chromium alloy. These heavy metals can cause rashes, nerve damage, vision problems, hearing problem, heart problems, and cognitive difficulties. All DePuy hip recipients should have their blood tested for the presence of cobalt and chromium.

If you received a DePuy ASR Acetabular or Hip Resurfacing System, you may be entitled to compensation for your hip revision surgery, your lifelong medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of income. DePuy will pay for the surgery, but you may have to fight for the right to have the surgery without releasing your complete medical records. To learn more about compensation for patients with DePuy ASR hips, please call Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham