All-metal hips’ failure on the rise

On October 4, 2011, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams broadcast a news segment focusing on the increasing number of failures associated with metal-on-metal hip implants, citing this as one of the largest medical device failures that has ever occurred in the United States. Although advertised as a way to give patients a second chance for an active life, metal-on-metal hip replacement devices are actually failing at faster rates than other hip devices made from different materials.

The high failure rates of metal-on-metal hip implants are associated with metal debris that is generated between the metal cup and the metal ball components of the devices. The metal debris may lead to potential damage of the bone and tissue. In some instances, the metal debris can enter the patient’s bloodstream, causing a reaction in the body. Doctors advise patients to see their orthopedic surgeons if they experience any adverse symptoms around the hip implant.

 Complaints of complications with metal-on-metal hips devices are on the rise. From January 2011 to September 2011 alone, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) received 10,896 reports of adverse events associated with metal-on-metal hip implants. Remarkably, DePuy, the company behind the recently recalled ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant, still stands behind these types of hip devices, stating “…metal-on-metal remains an important hip replacement option…The performance of the ASR Hip System is not indicative of all metal-on-metal devices.”

In light of the growing failure rates of metal-on-metal hip devices, the regulation of medical devices in the United States has also come under scrutiny. Critics are concerned that medical devices in this country are not held to the same stringent standards as prescription drugs. In May 2011, the FDA required twenty-one manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants to conduct post-marketing studies to determine the safety of these types of devices.

See the full news segment from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams at:

See the accompanying web clip from Dr. Joshua Jacobs on typical complaints regarding metal-on-metal hips at:

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