Surgeons should stop using metal-on-metal hip implants because they are prone to failure and may seep toxic metals into patients’ blood, say researchers who conducted safety studies on various hip replacement systems. The study was published this week in The Lancet.
Hip implants are traditionally made with plastic or ceramic parts. But newer models have been designed with all metal parts. The all-metal devices have made news in recent months because of reports of early failures and blood poisoning from the metal components. Determining the failure rate is practically impossible in the United States because there is no joint registry. However, England and Wales have one of the largest databases of hip and knee replacements. It is data from this National Joint Registry that researchers used to conduct this latest study.
According to the study, more than 31,000 people out of 400,000 who had hip replacement surgeries between 2003 and 2011 received metal-on-metal hip implants. After five years, nearly 6 percent of patients with metal-on-metal implants needed surgery to repair or replace their devices, compared to 1.7 to 2.3 of patients who had hip implants made with ceramic or plastic parts.
The study reinforces concerns raised last month by a joint investigation by the British Medical Journal and BBC News which found that metal debris from all-metal hip implants could leech into the tissue surrounding the implant and damage muscle and bone. These metals could also seep into the bloodstream and cause problems with the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and kidneys.
Last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered nearly two dozen manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants to conduct safety studies on their devices. This action was spurred by a recall of Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement and hip resurfacing systems, both of which are metal-on-metal devices, after the device showed unusually high failure rates.
Source: CBS News