What is considered a high level of cobalt in the body?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother had a hip replacement 3 years ago and it is one of those du puy hips that put cobalt into your system. My mother has just had special blood tests and the metal level in her blood in 200 - 250. Her doctor said this is OK. Can you tell me if this is actually OK? I heard that this is actually very high from personal research.

Thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.

Regards Sandra

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Cobalt and chromium release in patients who have had a metal-on-metal total hip replacement. The metal on metal design of DePuy's hip replacement system can cause metal toxicity due to chromium and cobalt ions that get released.

It is good that your mother is getting checked. Her "metal level" is 200-250, but you did not say if this is a chromium or cobalt level. Normal cobalt levels in the blood are 80-300 mcg/ml, so this is OK. Serum chromium levels normally range from less than 0.05 up to 0.5 micrograms/milliliter (mcg/mL), so if this is a chromium level, it would be too high.