Louis Mercuri, DDS, MS
Rush University Medical Center
TMJ Concepts: Consultant/Advisory Board, Ownership Interest includes stock, stock options, patent or other intellectual property
Purpose: The aim of this pilot study was to assay metal concentrations in the serum of patients who had undergone dental implant placement, orthognathic surgery using rigid metal fixation plates and screws and total temporomandibular joint replacement.
Materials and Methods: Thirty patients were identified and included in this pilot study. Sixteen patients (9 men and 8 women), with an average age of 44 years (19-79), provided informed consent to participate and were divided into 3 study groups with 4 patients in each (group 1, orthognathic surgery; group 2, TMJ TJR; and group 3, dental implant placement). A control group consisted of volunteers without any implanted metallic devices. Blood samples for serum metal analysis were obtained and analyzed in accordance with the standardized collection and testing protocols used at the Trace Metal Analysis Laboratory of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the Rush University Medical Center.
Results: All control participants had levels below the normal reference range for all serum markers assessed. In the orthognathic group, 1 patient had an increased serum cobalt level. In the TMJ TJR group, 1 patient had an increased serum cobalt level and another patient had an increased serum chromium level. In the dental implant group, 1 patient had an increased serum titanium level and another had increased serum levels of titanium and chromium.
Conclusions: This is the first study to report on the release of metal into the bloodstream in patients with different maxillofacial implanted metallic objects. The results raise questions regarding the types and magnitude of metal released from maxillofacial reconstruction devices and their potential long-term local and systemic effects. Future large-scale prospective studies involving serial measurements in homogeneous groups of patients could further elucidate the impact of these findings.