For two years, Paula Spurlock suffered from unexplained pain, itching and migraines and no doctor could seem to find the source. It wasn’t until she underwent a PET scan that it was discovered that the all-metal hip replacement system she received in 2008 was corroding inside her body. Further studies showed that the metal-on-metal device was leeching metal ions into her bloodstream, causing a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis and triggering her unpleasant symptoms.
Traditional artificial hips are made with ceramic or plastic parts. The newer, all-metal hip implants were designed so that they could last longer and hold up better for younger, more active patients. However, they were found to fail at a much higher rate than traditional implants.
These metal-on-metal hip implants are made by various manufacturers. Some, like Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy ASR hip replacement system, have been recalled by the manufacturer. But many continue to be marketed.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the devices and as a result is now providing updated safety information to patients and health care providers. The FDA will continue to gather and review available data on currently marketed metal-on-metal hip implants and will provide updates as necessary to patients and health care providers.
Meanwhile, thousands of patients have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these defective all-metal devices, claiming the makers should have thoroughly tested the implants before marketing them as safe and effective.