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Doctors Moving Away From Metal-On-Metal Hip Implants

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Metal-on-metal hip implants, initially believed to provide increased durability over their ceramic and ceramic-and-metal predecessors, are prematurely failing and leaving patients to suffer through serious adverse reactions. Because of this, doctors are starting to move away from metal-on-metal implants. Patients who have been implanted with all-metal hip devices complain of severe pain, dislocated devices, tissue swelling, increased metal levels in their bodies, and ambulation issues. Undergoing revision surgery is very painful and complicated. Doctors have less body mass with which to work, which is of concern in younger people who will likely require a future reimplantation. Worse, some patients

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have suffered infections and other problems that have left them unable to undergo surgery to receive a new device and are unable to walk. In some cases, patients have been implanted with defective devices on both hips. Artificial hips have a known lifespan of about 10-15 years; however, metal-on-metal devices appear to be failing at high rates well before even a 10-year time frame, which could cause some younger patients to undergo not just one more surgery, but two. In the U.S., said NewsInferno, metal-and-metal hip implant issues prompted the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), last May, to direct 21 all-metal hip replacement device manufacturers to conduct post-market studies of these devices to determine if their products were shedding dangerous amounts of metallic debris in patients. This shedding may lead to tissue damage, the development of cysts and pseudotumors, premature device failure, the need for revision surgery, and other long-term health problems, said the FDA. In one case, said The Star Tribune, one woman began suffering from adverse effects within one year. Terri Wagner-Morley, a mother of three—one grown son and twin daughters in college—dropped over 50 pounds when she was first implanted with her metal-on-metal device. The hip popped, she was unable to move, she put on all the lost weight, and suffered an infection that has left her unable to receive a new hip. She is bed-bound, with spacers where the hip should be, and living at a friend’s, said The Star Tribune. Wagner-Morley’s defective hip was removed in December. Metal-on-metal hip implants include DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the DePuy ASR Acetabular System, which were recalled in 2010 over unusually high premature failure rates. DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is facing, as of last count, more than 5,000 U.S. lawsuits over its defective ASR hip implants. At least 900 lawsuits are pending in the U.S. over an all-metal version of its Pinnacle hip replacement device. Plaintiffs claim the Pinnacle is similar in design to the ASR and should have been, but was not, recalled as well. Last month, the British Medical Journal revealed that metal-on-metal hip implant manufacturers knew about the growing evidence linking metal-on-metal hip devices to serious, long-term health consequences but, for years, never advised the public. Earlier this week, The Lancet published a study which found that the devices are twice as likely to fail as other types of implants. The researchers who conducted that study have called for the end to the use of metal-on-metal hip implants.

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