Identifying patients with recalled DePuy hip implant imperative

The National Joint Registry for England and Wales reveals that a type of metal-on-metal hip replacement is failing at an alarmingly high rate, making it imperative that all recipients of these faulty devices be identified before their injuries get worse.

The British registry of artificial joints was the first to identify the troubling trend with the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR XL hip replacement system. Data from the British registry ultimately led to the worldwide recall of all DePuy ASR XL hip resurfacing and hip replacement devices, a recall that affects approximately 93,000 people around the world.

The British registry makes it easy to identify patients in England and Wales who have received the faulty implants. But the United States does not have a similar database of artificial hip and knee replacements. Doctors offices are charged with notifying their patients who received the DePuy ASR XL hip replacements that their devices have been recalled. Not all doctors’ offices are able to track down those patients.

Most patients have gone to their doctors or surgeons when problems arose – such as pain in the hip joint, limited range of motion, or a popping sound, indicating the loosening, dislocating or fracturing of the implant. But some symptoms of implant problems are more obscure – chronic fever, headache, and fatigue. These symptoms have baffled doctors, until surgeons noticed that the metal-on-metal implant was actually leaching bits of metal into the bloodstream, causing a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis.

This strange phenomenon has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to order a review of all metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, not just the DePuy ASR XL. A report by the FDA on the safety and efficacy of these metal devices is expected soon.

Source: New York Times