DENVER (CBS4) – More than a million people in the United States receive hip and knee replacements each year, but there are some who are allergic to the metal used in the implant.
Paula Spurlock is one such person. She spent two years in pain, suffering from horrible migraines and her whole body itched.
No doctor could diagnose her issue until one day she underwent a PET scan. The scan highlighted her hip, which she’d had replaced with a metal implant in 2008.
“The said that I should go in and get that looked at,” said Spurlock.
Spurlock eventually saw Dr. Karin Pacheco at National Jewish Health.
She underwent patch testing and found that she was allergic to colbalt in her cobalt chrome hip.
Cases like Spurlock’s prompted National Jewish researchers to develop a simple blood test to detect a metal allergy.
Dr. Vijaya Knight and others came up with a test for nickel, a more common allergan also found in artificial joints.
“The blood sample can be mailed in and it doesn’t involve multiple visits,” said Knight.
They are now working on tests for allergies to cobalt, chromium and bone cement.
Spurlock has since replaced her metal hip with a ceramic one.
She’s grateful to National Jewish.
“I don’t want people to have to go through what I did,” said Spurlock, who is now pain free.