A study published earlier this year in Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research showed evidence that MRI scans may be able to predict ALVAL and pseudotumors in patients with metal on metal hips. The researchers looked at the MRI scans of 68 hips, taken at the time of revision surgery. They noted similarities between the hips that would later develop ALVAL (aseptic lymphocytic vasculitis-associated lesions) and tissue damage. They said:
Maximal synovial thickness and synovial volumes as determined on MRI correlated with the ALVAL score and were higher in cases of severe intraoperative damage. Our MRI predictive model showed sensitivity and specificity of 94% and 87%, respectively, for detecting ALVAL and 90% and 86%, respectively, for quantifying intraoperative tissue damage.
Because small pseudotumors can later lead to greater tissue damage, the researchers said, early detection is key. MRI scans can therefore be a screening tool to help doctors decide what patients need revision surgery.
In recent years, metal on metal hips have come under scrutiny for problems such as pain, dislocation, and tissue damage. If you have received a metal on metal implant and are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may want to consult your doctor about an MRI.