Cobalt-chrome Rods in Spine Surgery: What Is the Risk of a Battery Effect?

Paul A. Anderson, MD, and Kenneth Urish, MD, PhD

Spinal implants—including screws, rods, and plates—are manufactured using stainless steel, pure titanium, and titanium alloys. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages.

For example, advantages of titanium include its biocompatibility and the ability to do spinal imaging with magnetic resonance imaging without loss of signal secondary to metal artifact. Its disadvantages include decreased material stiffness, strength, and hardness. Titanium is prone to notching after bending deformation or at attachment sites to pedicle screws, which makes it more subject to fatigue failure.

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