Metal Hip Implant Complications Make Many Surgeons Hesitant to Use Them

A survey by a marketing research company has found that 25% of all orthopedic surgeons plan to avoid the use of metal-on-metal hip replacement implants, due to growing concerns about their safety and effectiveness. 

A report based on the survey, “Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants: Bad Idea, or Just Bad Press?” by Millennium Research Group (MRG) has been published in Physician Forum, an MRG publication. The survey found that a “significant” minority of surgeons plan to reduce their use of metal hip implants over the next year, according to a press release by the researchers.

Health care professionals have increasingly been finding a growing number of metal-on-metal hip implant complications. Particles from the artificial hips can damage soft tissue around the implant, cause inflammatory reactions and lead to bone loss. Doctors have also found that many of the metal hip implants do not seem to settle correctly into the ball-and-cup arrangement, leading to pain and discomfort for implant recipients.

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MRG researchers surveyed 150 orthopedic surgeons and found that clinical focus and negative media attention to the problems with metal hip implants have influenced their decisions. According to MRG researchers, those surgeons will likely turn to alternatives such as ceramic-on-polyethylene hip implants. However, most surgeons were still satisfied with metal hip implant performance, the survey found.

All of the major orthopedic medical device companies manufacture their own version of “metal on metal” hip implants, and several have maintained that the metallic debris problem does not pose a significant risk. However, in a recent editorial in the Journal of Arthroplasty, doctors were warned to avoid the use of metal hip implants, and said they should only be used “with great caution.”

In March, reports linked a particularly high failure rate to the DePuy ASR metal hip replacement system, which is now set to be phased off of the market. In the U.S., the FDA has received about 300 complaints of complications with the DePuy ASR hip implant since the beginning of 2008. Most of those involved situations where patients required additional surgery to replace the DePuy ASR hip.

A number of individuals who have experienced problems with their DePuy metal hip are now reviewing the potential for DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuits against the manufacturer, alleging that the hip implant was defectively designed and was sold with inadequate warnings about the risk of complications.


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