View Full Version : Long term effects of stainless steel implants

03-17-2005, 08:49 AM
Here is an odd one for you all. Especially those of you with Stainless Steel Rod implants. I have a sensitivity to nickel. I have been told that there is a higher incidence of Neuropathy in people with stainless steel implants. 15 months ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I have not been happy with the care I was getting, so decided to go to a Dr. at University of South Florida. He said I do not have Fibro, but he thinks I have Neuropathy (perhaps related to the rod) and Psoriatic Arthritis. My question is for all of you with Stainless Steel Implants. Do any of you have Neuropathy or pain that presents like Neuropathy and has been diagnosed as something else? Have any of you ever heard about the nickel in the implants causing problems? I would rather not have the rod removed if I can avoid it. Thanks in advance for your imput. Kathi

03-19-2005, 08:43 PM
Hi Kathi,

I might be wrong but I seem to remember reading something about nickel in implants somewhere, maybe in Dave Wolpert's book?? I can't put my hand on my copy at the moment, but hopefully somebody else will be able to shed some light on this...

Good luck!

03-19-2005, 09:27 PM
Despite some of what you'll read on the internet, there is no evidence that stainless steel implants cause any problems long-term. I tested very reactive to nickel, and cannot wear earrings with any inexpensive metal. However, I've had no unusual symptoms since my surgery 13 years ago.

Here's a recent paper on a stainless steel plate studied after 40 years in someone's arm:

J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2004 Jul;15(7):755-8. Related Articles, Links

No corrosion of 304 stainless steel implant after 40 years of service.

Blackwood DJ, Pereira BP.

Department of Materials Science, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Republic of Singapore. masdjb@nus.edu.sg

When exposed to 0.9% NaCl type 304 stainless steel undergoes severe pitting corrosion within a matter of days. However, a Sherman plate fabricated from type 304 stainless steel remained inside a patient's arm for almost 40 years without any visible indications of corrosion. Given the previous understanding of the pathological environments this was considered quite remarkable. It is proposed that the low dissolved oxygen levels found in human-body fluids makes the long-term in vivo environment much more benign than would be anticipated from in vitro experiments. Furthermore, it is proposed that previous cases of localized pitting corrosion on stainless steel implants most likely arose due to the development of short-term aggressive conditions due to pathological changes in the surrounding tissue as a result of the trauma of the implant procedure. In the present case the Sherman plate was sufficiently small that the surrounding tissue was not aggravated sufficiently to lead to the development of such an environment aggressive. The conclusion that surgical implants are at most risk during the first few weeks of service implies that short-term corrosion protection methods, such as coatings, may be more effective than previously thought.

03-20-2005, 06:04 AM
Thanks for the tip regarding the book, Laura. I will check it out. And Linda, thanks so much for the info you sent. I've been relieved that since I posted, there haven't been a ton of folks telling me they have had problems. Maybe this Dr. is on the wrong page! We'll see. Thanks again. Kathi

03-20-2005, 11:58 AM
I did mention this in my book, actually. Nickel is a component of stainless steel, but unless the rod is damaged and "shedding" particles (highly unlikely unless there's a severe manufacturing defect in it), even those who have trouble tolerating nickel shouldn't have a problem.


03-20-2005, 12:23 PM
I tried buying your book yesterday, but it was the very last one at the NSF headquarters, and I understand it's now out of print. When is your new/updated book coming out? Thanks!

03-20-2005, 12:35 PM
Thanks Dave, I appreciate your input. Kathi

03-21-2005, 08:03 AM

The 2nd Edition of my book is coming out in June. Until then, I'm selling an eBook (electronic book) version on my website for $10.95: www.CurvedSpine.com.

You might also want to check with the Scoliosis Association; they -may- still have some copies of the 1st Edition. Their number is (800) 800-0669.


04-18-2005, 09:55 PM
They seem to be the latest complete non-surgical treatment program. They even cast patients for a brace that uses air pockets to slowly move the spinal curves. This seems like a good alternative.