Allocation of nonbirefringent wear debris: Darkfield illumination associated with PIXE microanalysis reveals cobalt deposition in mineralized bone matrix adjacent to CoCr implants
Abrasive joint replacement material that accumulates in the tissue induces reciprocal effects between prosthesis material and organism. Since the limitations of brightfield and polarized light microscopy for foreign body analysis are well known, a method was applied that ensures the detailed histological assessment of nonbirefringent particles in periprosthetic soft and hard tissue.
Cemented and cementless interface regions of five selected autopsy hip implant cases were viewed under dark- field illumination and subsequently analyzed with proton-induced X-ray-emission (PIXE) without implants served as controls. Using darkfield illumination technique, metallic particles became visible as luminous points under the microscope. The majority of particles in the samples from the cemented cases were degradation products of radiopaque bone cement. There was minimal evidence of metallic alloy particles in the soft tissues. However, a considerable quantity of heavy metal cobalt (Co) was found in the periprosthetic mineralized bone tissue, which was not observed in the controls. The periprosthetic concentration of cobalt ranged from 38 to 413 ppm. The findings demonstrate a correlation between cobalt concentration, time since implantation, and distance from the implant. Darkfield microscopy associated with PIXE enables a detailed histological assessment of metal particles in the tissue. In an effort to optimize biomechanics, implant design and implantation techniques, the contamination of soft and hard tissue with heavy metal degradation products deserves similar attention in terms of alloy assortment.