Test Catalog

Test Id : COWB

Cobalt, Blood

Useful For
Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Monitoring exposure to cobalt using whole blood specimens


Monitoring metallic prosthetic implant wear


This test is not useful for assessment of vitamin B12 activity.

Special Instructions
Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test

Method Name
A short description of the method used to perform the test

Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

NY State Available
Indicates the status of NY State approval and if the test is orderable for NY State clients.


Reporting Name
Lists a shorter or abbreviated version of the Published Name for a test

Cobalt, B

Lists additional common names for a test, as an aid in searching

Co (Cobalt)

Cobalt (Co)

Specimen Type
Describes the specimen type validated for testing

Whole blood

Ordering Guidance

This test should not be ordered to assess vitamin B12 activity. For that assessment see B12 / Vitamin B12 Assay, Serum or ACASM / Pernicious Anemia Cascade, Serum.


High concentrations of gadolinium and iodine are known to interfere with most metal tests. If either gadolinium- or iodine-containing contrast media has been administered, a specimen should not be collected for 96 hours.

Specimen Required
Defines the optimal specimen required to perform the test and the preferred volume to complete testing

Container/Tube: Royal blue top (EDTA) Vacutainer plastic trace element blood collection tube

Specimen Volume: 1 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. See Metals Analysis Specimen Collection and Transport for complete instructions

2. Send whole blood specimen in original tube. Do not aliquot.

Special Instructions
Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test

Specimen Minimum Volume
Defines the amount of sample necessary to provide a clinically relevant result as determined by the Testing Laboratory

0.3 mL

Reject Due To
Identifies specimen types and conditions that may cause the specimen to be rejected

Gross hemolysis OK
Gross lipemia OK
Gross icterus OK
Microtainer Reject

Specimen Stability Information
Provides a description of the temperatures required to transport a specimen to the performing laboratory, alternate acceptable temperatures are also included

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Whole blood Refrigerated (preferred) 28 days
Ambient 28 days
Frozen 28 days

Useful For
Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Monitoring exposure to cobalt using whole blood specimens


Monitoring metallic prosthetic implant wear


This test is not useful for assessment of vitamin B12 activity.

Clinical Information
Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Cobalt (Co) is a naturally occurring, hard, grey element widely distributed in the environment. It is used to produce alloys in the manufacturing of aircraft engines, cutting tools, and some artificial hip and knee joint prosthesis devices. Cobalt salts are also used in the glass and pigment industry. Previously, cobalt salts were sometimes used as foam stabilizers in the brewing industry; this practice was banned due to the cardiovascular diseases it induced. One of the radioactive isotopes of cobalt, (60)Co, is used to sterilize medical equipment, in radiation therapy for cancer patients, and to irradiate food.


Cobalt is an essential cofactor in vitamin B12, which is necessary for neurological function, brain function, and the formation of blood. For most people, food is the largest source of cobalt intake. However, more than a million workers are potentially exposed to cobalt and its compounds, with the greatest exposure in mining processes, cemented tungsten-carbide industry, cobalt powder industry, and alloy production industry.


Cobalt is not highly toxic, but large doses will produce adverse clinical manifestations. Acute symptoms include pulmonary edema, allergy, nausea, vomiting, hemorrhage, and kidney failure. Chronic exposure to cobalt-containing hard metal (dust or fume) can result in a serious lung disease called hard metal lung disease, which is a type of pneumoconiosis (lung fibrosis). Furthermore, inhalation of cobalt particles can cause respiratory sensitization, asthma, shortness of breath, and decreased pulmonary function. Even though the primary route of occupational exposure to cobalt is the respiratory tract, skin contact is also important because dermal exposures to hard metal and cobalt salts can result in significant systemic uptake. Sustained exposures can cause skin sensitization, which may result in eruptions of contact dermatitis.


Per US Food and Drug Administration recommendations, orthopedic surgeons should consider measuring and following serial cobalt concentrations in EDTA anticoagulated whole blood in symptomatic patients with metal-on-metal hip implants as part of their overall clinical evaluation. Blood cobalt concentrations are likely to be increased above the reference range in patients with joint prosthesis containing cobalt. Prosthetic devices produced by DePuy Company, Dow Corning, Howmedica, LCS, PCA, Osteonics, Richards Company, Tricon, and Whiteside are typically made of chromium, cobalt, and molybdenum. This list of products is incomplete, and these products change occasionally; see prosthesis product information for each device for composition details.

Reference Values
Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

0-17 years: Not established

> or =18 years: <1.0 ng/mL

Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Concentrations of 1.0 ng/mL and above indicate possible environmental or occupational exposure.


Cobalt concentrations associated with toxicity must be interpreted in the context of the source of exposure. In the context of failed metal-on-metal prosthetics, elevated cobalt in serum or blood is rarely the initial finding and is often preceded by physical symptoms including reduced range of motion, swelling, inflammation around the joints, and general discomfort or pain.


The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Biological Exposure Index (BEI) for cobalt in blood is 1 mcg/L (1 ng/mL), which should be collected at the end of shift at the end of the work week.

Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

This test should not be ordered to assess vitamin B12 activity.


Because this test uses mass spectrometry detection, the radioactive form of cobalt, (60)Co, is not quantified.


Specimen collection procedures for cobalt require special specimen collection tubes, rigorous attention to ultraclean specimen collection and handling procedures, and analysis in an ultraclean facility. Unless these precautions are taken, elevated blood cobalt results may be an incidental and misleading finding.

Clinical Reference
Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Tower SS: Arthroprosthetic cobaltism: neurological and cardiac manifestations in two patients with metal-on-metal arthroplasty: a case report. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2010 Dec 1;92(17):2847-2851

2. Keegan GM, Learmonth ID, Case CP: A systematic comparison of the actual, potential, and theoretical health effects of cobalt and chromium from industry and surgical implants. Crit Rev Toxicol. 2008;38(8):645-674

3. De Smet K, De Hann R, Calistri A, et al: Metal ion measurement as a diagnostic tool to identify problems with metal-on-metal hip resurfacing. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008 Nov;90 Sppl 4:202-208

4. Lison D, De Boeck M, Verougstraete V, Kirsch-Volders M: Update on the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity of cobalt compounds. Occup Environ Med. 2001 Oct;58(10):619-625

5. US Food and Drug Administration: Information about Soft Tissue Imaging and Metal Ion Testing. FDA; Updated March 15, 2019. Accessed March 2, 2021. Available at: www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/MetalonMetalHipImplants/ucm331971.htm

6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicology profile for cobalt. HHS; April 2004. Accessed November 6, 2020. Available at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp33.pdf

7. Roberts NB, Taylor A, Sodi R: Vitamins and trace elements. In: Rifai N, Horwath AR, Wittwer CT, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. 6th ed. Elsevier; 2018:chap 37

8. Crutsen JRW, Koper MC, Jelsma J, et al: Prosthetic hip-associated cobalt toxicity: a systematic review of case series and case reports. EFORT Open Rev. 2022 Mar 17;7(3):188-199

9. Leyssens L, Vinck B, Van Der Straeten C, Wuyts F, Maes L: Cobalt toxicity in humans-A review of the potential sources and systemic health effects. Toxicology. 2017 Jul 15;387:43-56. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2017.05.015

Special Instructions
Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test

Method Description
Describes how the test is performed and provides a method-specific reference

The metal of interest is analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.(Unpublished Mayo method)

PDF Report
Indicates whether the report includes an additional document with charts, images or other enriched information


Day(s) Performed
Outlines the days the test is performed. This field reflects the day that the sample must be in the testing laboratory to begin the testing process and includes any specimen preparation and processing time before the test is performed. Some tests are listed as continuously performed, which means that assays are performed multiple times during the day.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday

Report Available
The interval of time (receipt of sample at Mayo Clinic Laboratories to results available) taking into account standard setup days and weekends. The first day is the time that it typically takes for a result to be available. The last day is the time it might take, accounting for any necessary repeated testing.

1 to 4 days

Specimen Retention Time
Outlines the length of time after testing that a specimen is kept in the laboratory before it is discarded

14 days

Performing Laboratory Location
Indicates the location of the laboratory that performs the test


Several factors determine the fee charged to perform a test. Contact your U.S. or International Regional Manager for information about establishing a fee schedule or to learn more about resources to optimize test selection.

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  • Prospective clients should contact their Regional Manager. For assistance, contact Customer Service.

Test Classification
Provides information regarding the medical device classification for laboratory test kits and reagents. Tests may be classified as cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used per manufacturer instructions, or as products that do not undergo full FDA review and approval, and are then labeled as an Analyte Specific Reagent (ASR) product.

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information
Provides guidance in determining the appropriate Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code(s) information for each test or profile. The listed CPT codes reflect Mayo Clinic Laboratories interpretation of CPT coding requirements. It is the responsibility of each laboratory to determine correct CPT codes to use for billing.

CPT codes are provided by the performing laboratory.


LOINC® Information
Provides guidance in determining the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) values for the order and results codes of this test. LOINC values are provided by the performing laboratory.

Test Id Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
COWB Cobalt, B 5625-9
Result Id Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
Applies only to results expressed in units of measure originally reported by the performing laboratory. These values do not apply to results that are converted to other units of measure.
60355 Cobalt, B 5625-9

Test Setup Resources

Setup Files
Test setup information contains test file definition details to support order and result interfacing between Mayo Clinic Laboratories and your Laboratory Information System.

Excel | Pdf

Sample Reports
Normal and Abnormal sample reports are provided as references for report appearance.

Normal Reports | Abnormal Reports

SI Sample Reports
International System (SI) of Unit reports are provided for a limited number of tests. These reports are intended for international account use and are only available through MayoLINK accounts that have been defined to receive them.

SI Normal Reports | SI Abnormal Reports