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Evidence Against Metal-On-Metal Hip Implants Mounts

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The evidence against metal-on-metal hip implants continues to mount, with some patients suffering from adverse health reactions even after the devices have been removed from their bodies.

It has long been known that some devices—specifically all-metal devices—experience higher-than-anticipated failure rates. Now, said USA Today, at the yearly American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting, today, in San Francisco, research will be presented revealing the devices can cause problems that go on for years.

Earlier this week, media outlets in Britain repored emerging study into metal-on-metal hip implants found that patients could face increased cancer risks. A British study found that one in five patients implanted with an all-metal hip implant suffered changes to their bladder cells that could be early signs of cancer, noted NewsInferno. The study was initiated after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned people in Britain who had been fitted with all-metal devices, to receive yearly annual checks with scans and blood testing to determine if their implants are shedding metal debris.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol, involved 72 patients. Of these, 17 people sustained genetic bladder damage and three of the 17 were diagnosed with cancer.

“This is a serious problem in the USA,” Mathias Bostrom, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, told USA Today. “Some implants have a worse record than others, but almost all the metal-on-metal implants have issues.”

As experts have explained, bodily damage occurs when the metal implant elements move against each other and metal debris is loosened and released in the body. Bostrom noted that these pieces can implant in the body’s soft tissue and bone and can enter the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation and tissue death near the joint; toxins entering the blood can also lead to heart and nervous system problems, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), wrote USA Today.

Last May, the FDA mandated 21 all-metal hip implant makers to conduct post-market studies of their products to determine if those devices were shedding dangerous amounts of metallic debris into patients. In addition to the all metal devices shedding dangerous amounts of cobalt and chromium, which can lead to tissue damage and long-term health problems, the shedding can also lead to premature device failure and the need for revision surgery.

That mandate came after the August 2010 worldwide recall of DePuy Orthopaedics’ all-metal ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the DePuy ASR Acetabular System. Data released by the National Joint Registry of England and Wales indicated that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had been implanted with the all metal devices required revision surgery within the first five years of the original surgery, said NewsInferno.

DePuy, which is a division of Johnson & Johnson, is facing over 3,500 U.S. lawsuits over its defective ASR hip implants while another 900 lawsuits are in progress in the U.S. over its all-metal Pinnacle hip replacement device.

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