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Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Recipients Twice as Likely to Need Revision Surgery

Jul 19, 2013

People fitted with a metal-on-metal hip implant are more than twice as likely to need revision surgery within five years compared to people with more traditional implant types.

The Canadian Press is reporting on a new study by researchers for the Canadian Institutes for Health Information that revealed people with metal-on-metal hip implants have a 5.9 percent chance of needing early revision surgery. These revision surgeries could be performed either to correct a hip implant or replace it entirely.

We’ve been reporting on the risks posed by metal-on-metal hip implants. The issue gained national attention in the late summer of 2010, when DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, announced a global recall of its ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant.

At the time of the recall, thousands of recipients of the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant had been linked to injuries and complication reports – although the recall was not ordered because of that, DePuy insisted. Rather, the recall was due to poor market performance. Despite that, thousands of recipients of the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant have since filed lawsuits against the company claiming that its defective design has put them at greater risk for serious injuries, as well as early hip implant failures, which facilitate the need for costly and painful revision surgeries.

Based on the data from the Canadian study, about three-quarters of all hip implants used there are the other variety – metal-on-plastic technology. The early failure/revision surgery rate for those hip implants was 2.7 percent. Canadian researchers admitted that problems with metal-on-metal hip implants were far greater in the U.S., which had accepted this type of implant to a much larger degree than the Canadian medical community, which preferred the metal-on-plastic. In fact, during the late 2000s, about 45 percent of U.S. males who needed a hip implant got a metal-on-metal hip implant, according to research from the Canadian study.

Based on our reports, victims of defective metal-on-metal hip implants are likely to suffer a range of serious injuries. Many people will experience these complications within the first few years after receiving their hip implant. As the metal components of these devices work together, they’re likely to shed metallic particles into a recipient’s bloodstream. This can cause toxic accumulations of the metals cobalt and chromium, and lead to muscle and soft-tissue damage. Recipients of metal-on-metal hip implants are also more likely to suffer from severe pain and inflammation at the site of their hip implants, which typically are the first signs of complications linked to these devices.

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