A study published March 13 in The Lancet, one of the world’s most respected medical journals, calls on doctors to stop using metal-on-metal hip replacement devices because of concerns about high early failure rates and potentially toxic metal debris leaching off and getting into patients’ bloodstreams.
According to a report by CBS News, British researchers analyzed more than 400,000 hip replacements from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales between 2003 and 2011. They found that almost 6 percent of people with the metal-on-metal variety – in which both the bone-end and the socket are lined with cobalt and chromium — needed surgery to fix or replace them after five years. That compares with 1.7 to 2.3 percent of patients who received ceramic or plastic joints. Doctors usually expect hip joints to last at least a decade, the report says.
Study author Ashley Blom, head of orthopedic research at the University of Bristol, is quoted as saying: “If I were a patient, I would not choose a metal-on-metal hip.”
The study in The Lancet marks the latest in a succession of alarming news stories about metal-on-metal implants to come out of the United Kingdom in recent weeks.
The medical journal BMJ (formerly called the “British Medical Journal”) has reported that hundreds of thousands of patients around the world may have been exposed to toxic substances after receiving metal-on-metal implants.
DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, continued to market the devices despite an internal memo from 2005 suggesting that the company was aware of the risks.
Also, the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency recommended that people who received the hip implants in question get monitored every year for as long as they have the devices, because of the health concerns. Previously, the agency recommended that the monitoring take place for five years after hip replacement.
In addition, a professional group of U.K. surgeons called the The British Hip Society issued a recommendation that the use of metal-on-metal hip implants be discontinued because of their high early failure rate.
In the United States, DePuy delayed in issuing a recall until August, 2010, despite hundreds of complaints of early failure. Physicians are being told to refer their patients to DePuy’s claims settlement company, Broadspire, but these “settlements” do not cover all potential damages or future injuries that might arise. You may be unknowingly signing your rights away by agreeing to settle for past medical expenses only.
Contact Lopez McHugh for a free case evaluation if you received a DePuy Orthopaedics hip implant and are experiencing side-effects.