Stephanie Herschaft Esq.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in Britain announced yesterday that patients in Britain who have received a certain metal-on-metal artificial hip are highly encouraged to have their new hip checked annually to ensure they are not suffering from tissue or bone damage or chromium or cobalt poisoning. Regulators in Britain had previously urged hip replacement patients to have a doctor monitor their hip once every five years to check for complications such as debris and implant wear.
This advisory does not have any effect on patients in the United States. However, the metal-on-metal artificial hip is used widely in hip replacement surgeries in the United States. Over the last ten years, about half of all hip replacement surgery patients received an all-metal hip. An official from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) stated that “the organization agreed with the clinical assessment made by British regulators.”
All-metal hips have high failure rates. Data analyzed from Australia and England orthopedic registries shows that all-metal hips fail precipitately at about two to three times the rate of plastic and metal hips. Thousands of patients with artificial hips were forced to suffer through secondary surgeries shortly after their first to replace the original implant. Other patients have become crippled because the metallic debris caused by metal rubbing on metal destroyed the muscle and tissue that surrounds the hip. The metallic debris can come from several sources, one of which is present in all metal-on-metal artificial hips.
Erica Jefferson, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, when asked about the British regulatory action, stated “We continue to recommend that hip replacement patients undergo regular follow-up with their physicians.”
Regulators and surgeons outside of the United States have been more proactive than those here about addressing the risks of all-metal artificial hips. When will the United States catch up?
Source: The New York Times