“Metal-on-Metal” Hip Replacements Linked to Complications

So called <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">“metal-on-metal” hip replacements may be causing complications for many recipients. According to an article in The New York Times, many orthopedic surgeons have reduced or stopped using such hip implants, and recently The Journal of Arthroplasty, urged doctors to use the metal-on-metal devices only with “great caution, if at all.”

Hip implants should last about 15 years. But in many cases, The New York Times said, recipients of metal-on-metal hip implants require replacement surgery within a year or two. One orthopedic surgeon told the Times that he was now replacing metal-on-metal devices at the rate of one a month.

In the U.S., metal-on-metal hip implants are used in one third – roughly 250,000 – hip replacements every year. They are also used in hip resurfacing procedures. The implants, whose ball-and-socket joints are made from metals like cobalt and chromium, were thought to be more durable than earlier devices.

But that may not be the case. According to The New York Times, studies indicate that hip implants can quickly begin to wear, generating high volumes of metallic debris that is absorbed into a patient’s body. This can cause soft-tissue destruction and destruction of bone.

According to the Times, roughly 1 to 3 percent of implant recipients could be affected by the problem, which translates to thousands of patients. And for some reason, these complications affect more women than men.

No one knows why these complications happen, or if some manufacturers’ hip implants are more likely to shed metal particles than others. According to the Times, experts believe the complications could be both design and technique related. Even slight misalignments by surgeons can have more serious consequence when a hip replacement involves a metal-on-metal implant rather than an older type of device, the Times said.

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