Metal on Metal Hip Implants Become a Mounting Problem

Since orthopedic surgeons began using metal on metal implant devices about ten years ago, there has been concern within the medical community that this type of implant can cause allergic reactions in certain patients, especially those receiving metal on metal hip implants.

However, these concerns have grown considerably due to emerging research and cases in which the metal debris from these implants has triggered strong inflammatory reactions that can severely damage the recipient’s muscles, tendons, and other soft body tissue. In some instances, the metal on metal implants can begin to wear quickly, causing a large amount of metal debris to be absorbed into the body. The resulting inflammatory reaction can leave patients with swelling, groin pain, limitation on range of motion, death of hip joint tissue, and loss of bone around the area. As a result, some top orthopedic surgeons are greatly reducing or completely stopping the use of metal on metal hip implants.

Over the last year, several major medical centers have begun treating a number of patients with medical problems directly related to metal debris in the body. Additionally, reports suggest women are far more likely than men to be affected by this growing problem. Dr. Joshua J. Jacobs, head of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center, reports that they have performed two dozen replacement procedures due to metal debris problems. Dr. Daniel J. Berry, who heads orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic says a similar number of patients at his facility have required metal on metal hip implant removal.

Metal on Metal Hip Implant Safety Research

All hip devices, no matter what material is used, create debris as the ball rotates and rubs against the cuplike socket, known as the acetabulum. However, in metal on metal hip implants, the ball can press up against the edge of the cup. This pressing causes a chisel-like effect called edge-loading, producing large volumes of microscopic metallic particles, or metal debris, which can create havoc in certain patients.

According to researcher reports from a 2008 Oxford University study, 17 women who had hip resurfacing with all-metal devices from a variety of manufacturers all experienced abnormal soft-tissue masses in the hip joint area. In another study of 660 patients in the United Kingdom, 3.4 percent of those studied had an adverse reaction to metal debris from implants made by DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.

University of British Columbia researchers also discovered varying levels of metallic ions in the bloodstreams of patients who received a conventional implant with a Durom socket, or “cup” as it is known. This implant is manufactured by Zimmer Holdings. As a result, researchers have urged that Zimmer Durom components no longer be used in standard implants because of excessively high metal ion levels.

If you or someone you know has undergone a hip replacement surgery (known as a Total Hip Arthroplasty) using a metal on metal hip implant and is experiencing problems, please contact our office to discuss your rights. All consultations are free of charge.

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