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Allergies

Spinal surgery implant allergy?

01/13/2009

Question:

I have a friend who had surgery to place a plate on the bones in his neck. After the surgery he began experiencing a horrible rash all over his body. He scratches and scratches and is completely miserable. He has been to doctors who have blamed everything from poison ivy to fleas. It has been going on for several months now. Is it possible that he is allergic to the plate they used in his neck? If it is possible, what does he need to ask the doctors to do?

Answer:

It is possible to have a reaction to a metallic product placed in the body for surgery. It is very difficult to tell if this is the cause of the rash, often is it not, but again, very tough to tell. If it is a concern, the best thing to do is first talk to the surgeon. Second, if they are not sure, you could talk with a physician who does delayed hypersensitivity testing. This is sometimes called patch testing. Both allergists and dermatologists do this type of testing. With this testing, it is possible to see if you have an external reaction and whether this may be the cause of the rash. In the end, it is up to the surgeon how to approach the problem and whether a fix is possible or not.

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Response by:

David  Hauswirth, MD David Hauswirth, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Crtitical Care & Sleep
Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University