Is it safe for patients with metal implants to have iontophoresis treatment?

Alice Sinclair, Florence Garty, James Smith*, Alexa Shipman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Iontophoresis passes electrical charge through skin to either deliver drugs or reduce excessive sweating. Treatments are performed using small, portable kits, which are usually performed by the patient at home following initial assessment and instruction. A limitation of the technique is that patients are not permitted to wear metal jewellery or have metal implants. These are hypothesised to increase the risk of electric shock, cause localised heating and/or corrosion.

Aim: To investigate whether metallic materials (titanium, stainless steel and copper) placed in the system where iontophoresis takes place would lead to an unfavourable outcome regarding corrosion or local heating of the metallic object.

Methods: This was carried out using mass loss and temperature change experiments, together with atomic force microscopy, for stainless steel, to assess any surface roughness changes. The investigations were carried out under accelerated conditions (70 V compared with standard use 20 – 30 V).
Results. No changes in mass or clinically-significant temperature of any of the metallic objects (or surface roughness for stainless steel) were observed.

Conclusions: This study suggests that these metallic implants are safe with patients undergoing iontophoresis treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-764
JournalClinical and Experimental Dermatology
Issue number7
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


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