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Metal-On-Metal Hip Implant Warning Issued in Australia

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A metal-on-metal hip implant warning was just issued in Australia, adding to the controversy surrounding the medical devices.

The Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing’ Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recommends that patients implanted with a metal-on-metal hip replacement device speak to their surgeons on an ongoing basis and receive regular ultrasound, MRI, and blood testing, said Top News. “There’s a growing body of evidence that when the ball and socket components wear against each other they can release trace amounts of chromium and cobalt,” said the TGA.

Release of these heavy metals into the body’s tissues, typically near the site of the implant, can lead to problems around the replacement joint, Top News pointed out. The level of toxicity and how the metal enters organs or tissues is still not very well understood; however, said the Australian regulator, it will be reviewing the replacement devices for safety and quality.

The TGA noted that although use of metal-on-metal hip implants is dropping in Australia, it is possible that some surgeons may still offer the devices based on individual patient needs and because of the perceived durability of these particular types of devices. Despite this, noted the TGA, evidence is growing that the devices’ all-metal components wear against each other, releasing trace amounts of chromium and cobalt, especially during the first 18-months following surgery.

The leaching can increase chromium and cobalt blood levels, as well as metal levels in the body’s tissues. If too much wear occurs and the leaching increases, the body may not be able to excrete the extra metal quickly enough, the TGA noted. Should this occur, pain will typically occur and increased metal levels in the blood will be seen.

The TGA pointed out that, generally, implanted medical devices last inside the body for a limited time and will likely require replacement; however, the agency believes it is critical to ensure that these implants are not replaced too often or too soon following implantation.

Most recently, NewsInferno wrote that lawsuits against Stryker Orthopaedics over its recalled Rejuvenate Modular Hip Implant System have been increasing with allegations that the Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacements caused metal poisoning that led to bone and muscle tissue surrounding the devices to corrode.

Stryker recalled the Rejuvenate and ABG II modular hip stems, stopping global distribution of the products on July 6. This, after ongoing post-market surveillance indicated the devices may be prone to “fretting and/or corrosion at or about the modular-neck junction.” Both Stryker systems consist of a chromium-cobalt stem, a titanium neck, and a non-metallic ball. Not technically considered “metal-on-metal” hip implants (such devices consist of a ball and cup both made from a chromium/cobalt alloy), said NewsInferno, emerging evidence indicates that modular metal hip systems can lead to similar metal-poisoning issues seen with full metal-on-metal hip replacement devices.

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