, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 1-7,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 01 Sep 2010

Titanium, Sinusitis, and the Yellow Nail Syndrome


Yellow nail syndrome is characterized by nail changes, respiratory disorders, and lymphedema. In a yellow nail patient with a skeletal titanium implant and with gold in her teeth, we found high levels of titanium in nail clippings. This study aims to examine the possible role of titanium in the genesis of the yellow nail syndrome. Nail clippings from patients with one or more features of the yellow nail syndrome were analyzed by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence. Titanium was regularly found in finger nails in patients but not in control subjects. Visible nail changes were present in only half of the patients. Sinusitis with postnasal drip and cough was the most common complaint. The dominant source of titanium ions was titanium implants in the teeth or elsewhere. The titanium ions were released through the galvanic action of dental gold or amalgam or through the oxidative action of fluorides. In other patients the titanium was derived from titanium dioxide in drugs and confectionary. Stopping galvanic release of titanium ions or canceling exposure to titanium dioxide led to recovery. In one patient with a titanium implant, the symptoms recurred after renewed exposure to titanium. Yellow nail syndrome is caused by titanium