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Cobalt and chromium are naturally occurring elements in the earth's crust. A very small amount of each is needed to stay healthy.

However, cobalt or chromium poisoning can occur from the wear and tear of cobalt/chromium metal-on-metal hip implants. This type of implant is an artificial hip socket that is created by fitting a metal ball into a metal cup. Cobalt and chromium can be released as the metal ball grinds against the metal cup when a person walks or moves. These microscopic metal shards are absorbed into the blood stream and can infiltrate the organs.

Persons who suffer pain, inflammation, difficulty walking, or develop cysts after receiving a metal-on-metal hip implant may have cobalt poisoning. Cobalt poisoning is extremely serious. Left untreated, it can result in:

• Thickening of the blood
• Vertigo
• Deafness and blindness
• Cognitive Problems
• Thyroid problems
• Cardiomyopathy
• Deafness
• Nerve problems
• Ringing in the ears.

Treatment for signs of cobalt toxicity from a metal-on-metal hip implants may include removing the implant and replacing it with a traditional hip implant. However, despite these “revision surgeries”, cobalt or chromium poisoning can cause problems that require ongoing medical treatment for a long time.

Chromium poisoning is as dangerous as cobalt poisoning. Patients with elevated chromium levels often show similar symptoms as those with elevated cobalt levels. The most notable difference is that cobalt poisoning can cause cardiomyopathy while elevated chromium levels do not appear to cause heart problems but can cause problems with the reproductive system. Chromium can also cause problems with the kidneys.

**Updated Information**

When the attorneys at are called about problems that come from metal on metal hip implants, we are often told that our client has “elevated” cobalt or chromium levels. Our clients often ask what this means. This is especially tricky as we are not doctors.  

However, metal-on-metal hip replacements means the medical community must be able to tell a patient what ‘normal’ levels of cobalt or chromium are. Believe it or not, your body will naturally have cobalt and chromium in it.

Lets start with cobalt. Cobalt is naturally occurring element that does have beneficial applications. For instance, cobalt is an essential component of vitamin B12. However, cobalt can accumulate to toxic levels in the liver, kidney, pancreas, and heart, as well as the skeleton and skeletal muscle. Cobalt has been found to produce tumors in animals and is likely a human carcinogen as well.

Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts. The exact amount is not well defined. One type of chromium is found in food. Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body.

One of the challenges in determining the ‘normal’ amount of cobalt and chromium for a metal-on-metal hip implant patient is that the amount in blood and organs may be different. This is also due to the fact that cobalt and chromium blood levels can change depending on physical and working activity, individual feeding and metabolism of the patient.

The guidelines on what constitute an unacceptably high level of cobalt ions in blood depends on who you talk to. For example, DePuy hip implant designer and consultant, Dr Schmalzried, has said that, in patients with a well functioning device, levels should be no higher than 2 micrograms a liter.

Indeed, considers any level over 2 micrograms of cobalt per liter of blood as abnormal. Note that this isn’t set in stone. Some medical experts consider “normal” cobalt levels as below 1.0 microgram per liter of blood. Generally speaking, levels over 5 micrograms of cobalt per liter of blood are considered toxic. However, because revision surgery has risks, your doctor may chose to only monitor you more closely if your cobalt levels are over 5 micrograms per liter.

If your cobalt levels rise to high, your doctor may recommend that your metal hip be replaced with an implant that does not contain cobalt. However, your doctor will consider many factors before suggesting revision surgery: metal ion levels are rarely considered enough on their own.

Luckily, cobalt is not an accumulating metal. This means it is not stored in the bones, but is stored in the liver and can be processed out of the body through the urine. It is common that, once the cobalt source has been eliminated, the cobalt levels return to normal.

As for chromium, its important to note that there are different types. However, using only the criteria of, the highest safe level of chromium is below 17 micrograms per liter in whole blood levels.

Chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bone. Therefore, the liver and kidney are often target organs for toxicity from chronic exposure to chromium.

However, the body's chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars can increase chromium excretion in the urine. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation, and stressful states (such as physical trauma) increase chromium losses.

As always, talk to your doctor about whether you have elevated levels of chromium or cobalt. It is your doctor, and your lawyer, that needs to monitor you and give medical advice. However, if you have suffered adverse effects from a metal on metal hip, we offer a free and confidential consultation.

Only a blood test will determine what levels of metal are in your bloodstream if your metal on metal hip has failed or is failing. As always, please do not take medical advice from us. We are not doctors and we provide this information for your information only. However, if you have received a metal on metal hip implant and are concerned about the effects chromium and cobalt poisoning may have on your health, please give us a call.

If you or a loved one has suffered any symptoms after receiving a metal hip implant, you may be entitled to compensation. Our award-winning lawyers have set records in settlements and trials for obtaining fair compensation for our clients and can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Call now to speak with an experienced legal professional for free.

Please contact us at 1(855) 464-0808 or for a free legal evaluation of your claims today!

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