Pharmaceutical

DePuy artificial hips: “one step forward, two steps back”

Anyone with degenerative arthritis who elects to have hip-replacement surgery would never trade their pain and immobility for a host of more serious and painful problems, yet that is exactly what thousands of patients who have received artificial hips made by DePuy Orthopedics have unknowingly done.

According to Orthopedics Today, metal-on-metal hip systems have proven to be a bit of a disaster – one which the journal describes as “one step forward, two steps back.” Artificial hips made by DePuy have prompted the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to issue a warning against the use of metal-on-metal artificial hips and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review and recall DePuy’s hip systems. Other health agencies worldwide have followed suit.

Generally speaking, metal-on-metal replacement hips have some benefits, including unparalleled strength and durability, but certain brand models such as DePuy’s Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) system and the ASR XL Acetabular system carry too many risks.

Poor quality and design seem to be the main drawbacks of DePuy hip implants. While most other artificial hips can last as long as 35 years with a failure rate of around 12 percent, studies have shown DePuy artificial hips fail at the same rate within just 5 years. Hip replacement failure causes severe pain, swelling, and walking difficulty and usually requires patients to undergo another hip replacement or “revision” surgery. Unfortunately, some orthopedic surgeons have predicted that 100 percent of DePuy ASR artificial hips will fail within 10 years of being implanted.

As metal scrapes against metal, particles of cobalt can enter the surrounding tissue and bloodstream. Cobalt is a heavy metal that is toxic to humans even in very low levels. Patients who have been poisoned by their artificial hips have suffered from anxiety, cognitive decline, constant pain, depression, dizziness, fatigue, hearing loss, incoordination, irritability, memory loss, nerve atrophy, organ damage, rashes, tinnitus, tissue damage, tremors, tumors, and vision impairment. These are not isolated symptoms of artificial-hip induced metal poisoning but side effects commonly reported by patients who have received the faulty hip implants, many of whom suffer from a number of the complications at once or experience a progression of symptoms from mild to extreme.

The health risks of DePuy replacement hips are serious for everyone, but are especially heightened for women of childbearing age and their fetuses and patients with renal impairment, diabetes, or lupus.