Metal-on-Metal Hips “Wear Down Quicker”’

Research points to the increased wearing down of metal-on-metal hip device implants, while experts call for a ban of the controversial orthopedic devices.

The research, a registry study that reviewed hip implant data collected by the National Joint Registry of England and Wales, records every hip and knee replacement surgery and includes the first surgery to install this type of implant as well as all revision surgeries to replace or remove a portion of the original implant in those countries, said the Skegness Standard.

Now, said The Guardian, “Experts are calling for controversial metal-on-metal hip implants to be banned,” according to the Skegness Standard. The Guardian also noted that research reveals “unequivocal evidence” of high failure rates associated with these implants, especially in women.

Concern regarding the devices has been high and, in recent months, the safety of some types of metal-on-metal hip replacements has increased over issues with the implants wearing out quicker than implants constructed with plastic and ceramic components, said the Skegness Standard. As with natural bone, metal hip implants experience wear and tear, eventually deteriorating and, noted the study’s authors, concerns regarding high failure rates were particularly focused on one brand of a metal-on-metal hip stemmed implant called ASR, said the Skegness Standard.

Researchers working on behalf of the National Joint Registry in England and Wales reviewed data on 402,051 hip surgeries that involved implants attached to the thighbone by a metal stem. This included, noted the Skegness Standard, 31,171 metal-on-metal implants. Metal implants saw higher failure rates versus other types of hip devices and experienced an overall five-year failure rate of 6.2 percent.

As we’ve explained, the 2010 DePuy Orthopaedic’s ASR hip implant sparked a widespread controversy over the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants. A high rate of early failures suffered by recipients of the ASR device gave rise to thousands of reports of complications suffered by people fitted with that and an array of other all-metal implants. At least 100 people—likely more—have filed lawsuits against DePuy, a division of medical giant Johnson & Johnson, seeking compensation for the many injuries these implants have been known to cause.

Metal-on-metal hip implants were designed, or at least marketed, to last as long as 20 years, and were meant reduce the need for revision surgeries and give recipients a better chance at regaining full mobility. For many recipients of the DePuy ASR hip implant and many others, it only took months or just a couple years for complications to arise. Popping, squeaking, and other noises emanated from the site of the implant; patient suffered serious pain and inflammation; and some recipients experienced complete deice failure, necessitating early revision or full replacement surgery to remove a defective implant.

The devices also pose risks for metal poisoning because, as the metal components of the implant wear, small metallic particles are dispersed throughout the body and into the bloodstream. Recipients have suffered the effects of high levels of cobalt and chromium, which causes organ and tissue damage and the potential growth of small tumors throughout the body.

Revision and replacement surgeries are costly and painful and those forced to endure these procedures are not always guaranteed they’ll regain full mobility. In the U.S., hundreds of people nationwide have joined lawsuits against the makers of all-metal hip implants. A first trial has been scheduled for early 2013 that could lay the groundwork for future injury claims.

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