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Adverse reactions to metal debris: histopathological features of periprosthetic soft tissue reactions seen in association with failed metal on metal hip arthroplasties
  1. Sonali Natu1,
  2. Raghavendra Prasad Sidaginamale2,
  3. Jamshid Gandhi2,
  4. David J Langton2,
  5. Antoni V F Nargol2
  1. 1Department of Pathology, University hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  2. 2Department of Orthopaedic, University hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sonali Natu, Department of Histopathology, University Hospital of North Tees NHS Foundation Trust, Hardwick road, Stockton-on-Tees TS19 8PE, UK; sonali.natu{at}


Aim To describe the histopathology of localised adverse reactions to metal debris (ARMD) seen in association with failed metal on metal (MoM) hip arthroplasties. The nature of aseptic lymphocytic vasculitis associated lesion (ALVAL) is investigated.

Methods Periprosthetic soft tissues biopsied at time of revision from failed MoM hip arthroplasties from January 2007 to March 2011 were analysed. The inflammatory cell response was categorised into perivascular lymphocytic cuffing (ALVAL), lymphoid aggregate formation with or without germinal centres, metallosis characterised by sheets of macrophages with intracytoplasmic metallic debris and well-defined granulomas.

Results 123 patient samples were analysed, 36 males (29.2%) and 87 females (70.8%). Three cases showing complete tissue necrosis were excluded. Patients were reviewed between 3.27 to 69.6 months postarthroplasty, with an average of 30.92 months. 103 cases (85.8%) showed ALVAL, 18 cases also showed well-defined granulomas. Of the 103 cases with ALVAL, 60 cases also showed a diffuse chronic lymphocytic synovitis, and 40 cases showed lymphoid aggregates with germinal centres. 17 cases (14.2%) showed pure metallosis. Small vessels showing ALVAL expressed peripheral node addressin.

Conclusions ARMD is a spectrum of changes comprising of pure metallosis, ALVAL and granulomatous inflammation. ALVAL, a distinctive inflammatory response seen in ARMD, is a precursor of lymphoid neogenesis. Lymphoid neogenesis documented in a variety of chronic inflammatory conditions most probably contributes to tissue necrosis and prosthetic failure seen in MoM hip arthroplasties. The role of vascular changes in contributing to necrosis is unclear at this stage.

  • Adverse reactions to metal debris
  • aseptic lymphocytic vasculitis associated lesion
  • lymphoid neogenesis
  • synovium
  • orthopaedic pathology
  • joint pathology
  • clinical audit
  • diagnosis
  • orthopaedic pathology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.