In total hip endoprosthetics and consequently for TDA, metal-on-metal combinations are used with the aim of reducing wear debris. In metal-on-metal TDA the release of metal ions has until now been secondary to the main discussion.

In order to investigate the ion release following the implantation of the metal-on-metal Maverick type artificial lumbar disc we measured the serum cobalt and chromium concentration following implantation of 15 Maverick TDAs (monosegmental L5/S1, n = 5; bisegmental L4/5 and L5/S1, n = 5; average age 36.5 years). Five healthy subjects (no metal implants) acted as a control group. The two measurements of the metals were carried out using the absorption spectrometry after an average of 14.8 and 36.7 months.

In summary, the concentrations of cobalt and chromium ions in the serum at both follow-ups amounted on average to 3.3 microg/l (SD 2.6) for cobalt and 2.2 microg/l (SD 1.5) for chromium. These figures are similar to the figures shown in the literature following the implantation of metal-on-metal THA. After a comparison to the control group, both the chromium and cobalt levels in the serum showed visible increases regarding the first and the second follow-up.

As there is still a significant release of cobalt and chromium into the serum after an average follow-up of 36.7 months a persistent release of these ions must be taken into consideration. Despite the evaluation of the systemic and local effects of the release of Cr/Co from orthopaedic implants has not yet been concluded, one should take into consideration an explanation given to patients scheduled for the implantation of a metal-on-metal TDA about these results and the benefits/risks of alternative combinations of gliding contact surfaces.