Is There a Cardiotoxicity Associated With Metallic Head Hip Prostheses? A Cohort Study in the French National Health Insurance Databases

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There are four distinguishable types of THA devices in wide use, as defined by the femoral and acetabular bearing surfaces: metal-on-polyethylene (MoP), ceramic-on-polyethylene (CoP), metal-on-metal (MoM), and ceramic-on-ceramic (CoC). Metallic head THAs (MoP and MoM) can potentially induce cardiac toxicity because cobalt species, generated at the head-neck trunnion, and in the case of MoM devices, at the articular surface as well, can be absorbed systemically. However, studies have provided inconsistent results.


The purpose of this study was to assess the risk of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or heart failure (HF) associated with metallic head THAs using data from the French national health insurance databases.


Between 2008 and 2011 in France, 399,968 patients ≥ 55 years had a first THA. A total of 127,481 were excluded after we applied the exclusion criteria regarding arthroplasty and 17,137 as a result of a history of DCM/HF, recorded in the French national health insurance reimbursement databases, between January 1, 2006, and the date of inclusion. The final cohort included 255,350 individuals (43% men; mean age 72 ± 9 years). Of them, 93,581 (37%) had been implanted with MoP, 58,095 (23%) with CoP, 11,298 (4%) with MoM, and 92,376 (36%) with CoC THAs. Patients were followed until December 2015. Patients with incident DCM/HF were identified by a new entitlement to the long-term disease scheme or a first hospitalization with a diagnosis of DCM or HF. MoP and CoP THAs are generally implanted in old patients, whereas MoM and CoC are mostly indicated in young, active male patients. Thus, to consider the specific indications of the bearing couples, analyses were separately performed in two distinct subcohorts, one comprising patients with MoP or CoP and one comprising patients with MoM or CoC THA. In each subcohort, the DCM/HF risk was compared between patients with metallic head versus nonmetallic head THAs (MoP versus CoP, MoM versus CoC). Hazard ratios (adjusted HRs) of incident DCM/HF were estimated using Cox models adjusted for baseline sex, age, THA characteristics (fixation technique with cement, use of a modular femoral neck), and comorbidities at baseline. Cox models were stratified by sex and age.


The crude incidence of DCM/HF per 100 person-years was 2.4 in patients with MoP, 1.8 with CoP, 1.2 with MoM, and 1.1 with CoC THAs. Overall, metallic head THAs were associated with a slight increase in DCM/HF risk (MoP versus CoP: adjusted HR, 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.12; p < 0.001; MoM versus CoC: adjusted HR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.03-1.19; p = 0.007). In the MoM-CoC subcohort, the risk tended to be more pronounced with MoM versus CoC THAs in women (MoM versus CoC: adjusted HR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.07-1.35; p = 0.002) and patients aged ≥ 75 years (MoM versus CoC: adjusted HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.04-1.29; p = 0.009).


Metallic head THAs were associated with a slightly increased DCM/HF risk, especially with MoM in women and older patients. Some caveats should be mentioned: severity of DCM or HF was not available and residual confounding cannot be ruled out despite considering many covariates. Our findings suggest that cardiac function should be regularly monitored in patients with metallic head THAs. Further investigations should be planned on large international cohorts.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study.

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