Two grandmothers in the U.K. recently detailed their problems with metal-on-metal hip implants made by Biomet, Inc. Both women say they began experiencing excruciating pain within a few years of receiving their Biomet metal-on-metal hip implants, and have had to undergo surgeries to correct complications.
Scilla Barret of Cwmdu, Wales received two all-metal Biomet hip implants in 2007, prior to undergoing surgery to correct a curved spine, according to the Carmarthen Journal. The 56-year-old grandmother says the hip replacements “never felt right,” and by January of last year, she was “in such severe pain I was unable to walk at all.”
Tests at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London revealed high levels of cobalt and chromium in her blood. In November 2011 and January 2012, she underwent surgeries to have both Biomet metal-on-metal hip implants replaced, as well as her left thigh bone.
“The surgeon described the top of my thigh bone as resembling crumbling cheese,” Barret told the Carmarthen Journal. “It was due to the poisoning by the metals coming off the new hip.”
Barret is now considering legal action against Biomet, and is warning other metal-on-metal hip implant recipients to have their blood tested for elevated levels of metal ions.
Regina Farmer, a 51-year-old grandmother from Basinstoke, England, received her Biomet metal-on-metal hip implant in 2006.
“Although the operation itself was a success, very soon after I was suffering with really bad pains in my hip and I wasn’t able to walk as I expected,” Farmer told This is Hampshire.
In 2010, and it was found she had an infection around the Biomet metal-on-metal hip replacement, forcing Farmer to undergo a surgery to have part of the device removed. Plastic was inserted in an effort to stop the metal rubbing together and prevent future problems. Despite her surgery, however, Farmer is still suffering painful side-effects and finds it hard to walk or even sit down when the pain is at its worst. She has already filed suit against Biomet.
Farmer and Barret are just two of potentially hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world whose health has been damaged or endangered by metal-on-metal hip implants made by Biomet and other medical device companies. Concerns about the devices started to mount in 2010, when DePuy Orthopaedics issued a recall of its ASR hip implants, following findings that they were failing in about 12 percent of patients within five years.
Last May, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) directed 21 companies that market all-metal hip replacements, including Biomet, to conduct post-market studies of their products to determine if they were shedding dangerous amounts of metallic debris in patients In the U.K., the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that blood tests should be conducted yearly to check cobalt and chromium blood levels in some all-metal hip implant recipients, those with bearings of 36 mm or above, as well as MRIs for any patient who does exhibit high metal ion levels.
Late last month, the British Medical Journal revealed that metal-on-metal hip implant manufacturers were aware of mounting evidence linking metal-on-metal hip replacement devices to serious, long-term health consequences, but for years failed to warn the public about these dangers. Earlier this month, The Lancet published a study conducted by University of Bristol researchers who found that people with metal-on-metal hip implants were twice as likely to experience early failure of their device compared to those fitted with other types of implants. The authors of the study asserted the devices should no longer be used.
The British Hip Society has gone so far as to recommend that metal-on-metal hip implants with larger bearings no longer be used in total hip replacements until they can be studied further.
Since the DePuy ASR hip implant recall, DePuy and other manufacturers have been named in lawsuits over their metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. Thousands of DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Ohio. February, a multidistrict litigation was established in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for lawsuits involving the all-metal Wright Conserve Hip Replacement System. Claims involving a metal-on-metal version of DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implant have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in Texas. Several lawsuits are also pending in the U.S. over Biomet metal-on-metal hip implants.