Terri Wagner-Morley’s artificial hip seemed like an answered prayer. In just one year, she regained mobility lost from chronic arthritis, and was able to exercise again. She shed more than 50 pounds and was enjoying life again. “It felt great,” she told the Star Tribune. But shortly thereafter problems began to surface. It started with a popping sensation in her right hip, then came the pain. Soon, Terri wasn’t moving around like she had been. The exercising stopped, and the weight came back.
Terri’s artificial hip failed. She needed surgery to remove the defective device. An infection set in, which forced a delay in implanting a replacement. She is now confined to a wheelchair and cannot even walk.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Terri’s case is that her hip implant was supposed to be stronger and more durable than traditional hip implants. Unlike other implants made of plastic or ceramic parts, Terri’s artificial hip was made with all metal parts that included a metal ball that turned inside a metal socket. What she didn’t realize is that reports of failures with her particular device – a metal-on-metal implant made by DePuy Orthopaedics – were rolling in to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and similar health agencies around the world.
The United States does not have a database that tracks joint replacements, but other countries such as the United Kingdom do. Data from UK’s National Joint Registry showed that people who had metal-on-metal hip implants were more than twice as likely to have problems requiring repair or replacement surgery than devices made with plastic or ceramic. Problems ranged from dislocating, fracturing and loosening, which is generally found over time with most hip implants. But problems also included a type of blood poisoning from the leeching of metal from the all-metal implants into the bloodstream. This condition can result in muscle and bone damage, as well as cause problems with the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.
In 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics issued a recall of its ASR hip replacement and hip resurfacing systems, an action that affects an estimated 93,000 people worldwide. The recall was followed by an FDA order for makers of all-metal artificial hips to conduct safety reviews of their products.
Source: Star Tribune