The aims of this study were to evaluate the incidence of local argyria in patients with silvercoated megaprostheses and to identify a possible association between argyria and elevated levels of silver both locally and in the blood. Between 2004 and 2011, 32 megaprostheses with silver coatings were implanted in 20 female and 12 male patients following revision arthroplasty for infection or resection of a malignant tumour, and the levels of silver locally in drains and seromas and in the blood were determined. The mean age of the patients was 46 years (10 to 81); one patient died in the immediate post-operative period and was excluded.
Seven patients (23%) developed local argyria after a median of 25.7 months (interquartile range 2 to 44.5). Patients with and without local argyria had comparable levels of silver in the blood and aspiration fluids. The length of the implant did not influence the development of local argyria. Patients with clinical evidence of local argyria had no neurological symptoms and no evidence of renal or hepatic failure. Thus, we conclude that the shortterm surveillance of blood silver levels in these patients is not required.