Wear Debris in Joint Replacement and Genetic Problems

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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joint replacement wear debris

Wear debris is a big issue in knee and hip replacement as we now have many studies that show that many types of prostheses produce these small particles. However, if you’ve already had a joint replacement or are considering one, a new study should be very concerning. It found that this wear debris can cause chromosomal abnormalities!

Wear debris is a big problem in hip and knee replacement devices. This means that the artificial hip or knee sheds particles into the joint and blood stream as it wears down. This debris has been shown to cause inflammation, increase metal concentrations in the blood, and lead to other side effects. However, what if the particles caused serious problems in cells?

Your chromosomes contain the instructions for your cells. They can be damaged by chemicals and if that happens, your cells have bad instructions for how to make the chemicals that keep you alive. This can be a very serious problem! In addition, chromosome abnormalities could theoretically lead to cancer.

The new study looked at the wear debris from real hip and knee devices that had been removed from patients. The researchers looked at the effects of those particles on human tissues by looking at the status of the chromosomes in those cells versus the concentration of the metals in the debris. What they found is very concerning, in that there was a direct correlation between the metal concentrations and the amount of chromosome damage!

The upshot? This is a scary study for any patient that has a hip or knee replacement device implanted or is considering one. While joint replacement wear debris causing inflammation and elevating serum metal levels is bad enough, having that debris mess with your chromosomes is huge problem. What’s fascinating is that this could by why one large European joint replacement registry found an association between cancer rates joint replacement. What can you do? If you have don’t yet have a joint replacement, this study should make you even more wary about getting one!

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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