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Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Parts Linked to Reports of Problems

  • Written by: Staff Writers
  • 7 Comments

Health care professionals are warning of increasing signs of problems with metal-on-metal hip implants, which could affect up to 3 percent of all recipients.

The warnings, highlighted in a story by the New York Times, come from surgeons and hip specialists who say that metal particles shed into the body as the hip implants wear down can cause complications. A number of studies have brought attention to the problem as the popularity of the metal hip implant parts has spread in recent years.

The “metal on metal” hip implants account for about one-third of the 250,000 hip replacements performed each year in the U.S. They became popular due to the belief that the metal structure, usually chromium or cobalt, would be more durable than other types of hip implants. However, after a series of studies over the last couple years, surgeons are warning that one to three percent of all metal on metal hip implant recipients may experience hip failure, and possibly need to have the devices replaced, due to metallic debris.

The metal particles are shed into the body as the devices wear down, particularly in the ball-and-socket joints. The metal particles can damage soft tissue, cause inflammatory reactions and lead to bone loss.

Last year, U.K. researchers studied 660 patients who had received metal hip implants from DePuy Orthopaedics and found that 3.4 percent suffered from adverse reactions to metal debris.

Canadian researchers also reported last year that patients who received the Zimmer Durom hip replacement system had different levels of metallic ions in their bloodstream than people who did not have the implant. Researchers found that Zimmer Durom Cup recipients had much higher levels of chromium and cobalt in their blood than those who underwent other procedures.

Zimmer already faces a number of lawsuits over other problems with the Zimmer Durom Cup hip implant. A temporary Zimmer Durom Cup recall was previously issued in 2008, due to a high number of hip replacement failures associated with the product. Sales were suspended during the Durom Cup recall and the product was reintroduced with new warning labels and instructions for surgeons on techniques needed to avoid the risk of complications. The Canadian study, underwritten by Zimmer, called for revised Zimmer Durom Cup to be recalled as well.

A number of plaintiffs have filed Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuits alleging they had experienced cup failures, leaving them in constant pain and requiring additional medical treatments and surgery.

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

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7 comments

  1. Monica Reply

    I have been suffering from chronic pain ever since I had my metal on metal hip replacement nearly 1-1/2 yrs ago. After noticing a very large lump (only visible if I laid down on the opposite hip) my doctor finally aknowledged my on-going pain and is in process of scheduling a surgery to remove the lump. However, as I have been researching the problems now occuring with metal/metal replacment, I am growing more concerned, as this possible problem has not been addressed with me and he is “puzzled” by the lump. Now I am afraid to jump into yet another surgery.

  2. Joyce Reply

    I had a LTH in Dec 2003. The results were never too satisfactory. I had a RTH in Dec 2007 which as a result of different procedures the LTH became more of a problem. The doctor wanted to do a hip revision on the left hip and it was scheduled for Oct 2008; however, I was exhausted and skittish about more hip surgery. June 2010 my left hip pain and function became overwhelming. I could not function anymore with the way it was. I consulted my doctor and 8/23/10 I had the revision. I don’t think this is one of the recalls from DuPuy but I do think that it is a DuPuy product and it was a metal on metal.
    I was told it should have lasted around 20 years and it lasted less than 7 years and would have been less if I had fixed it in 2008.

  3. gina Reply

    Any-one with problems needs to find out what prosthetic they have. I got my info. from the hospital. i had my THR 1/19/2009 and have had numerous problems since!! I just finished all the testing for metal issues, possible infection and other problems and see my surgeon tomorrow for the reults. I know something is wrong and has been for over14 months. I am now taking action to find out info. about hip replacements and others having problems. I have an attorney , who already has a few other people with these problems and is looking it to this mess.
    We need to get our stories out there so that no-one else is made to feel they are going crazy and that there could be a problem..

  4. Howard Reply

    I had a Smith & Nephew (BHR) put into me in 2007- taken out in 2010. Today I am home in a wheelchair with no hip.
    If you are having problems with your Smith & Nephew hip (years 2006-present) please contact.

  5. Charlotte Reply

    I had a total hip, metal on metal by Wright, performed in 8/09 at the age of 54 and was only able to walk for a few weeks after the surgery. Ended up in excruciating pain and confined to a wheel chair for the next three months. I had three “second” opinions and all said to get back to my doctor asap. Armed with these reports, I begged, pleaded “and threatened” my doctor to do the revision. In 12/09 he replaced the metal ball to ceramic, changed the angle of the ball and precisely measured leg length to match other leg (I was wearing a lift). After one year I was able to get off drugs, ride a bike, wear heels, walk normally and lead a relatively pain free life. Occasionally I will have what I call a “two week flair up”. I believe it is cause by excessive walking causing the metal to grind off then inflame the soft tissue. My persistence and finally threats were the only reason the doctor did my revision so quickly…and it paid off! I know that if I had not been so agressive, I would not be walking today! You are the only one who knows how you feel. don’t let your doctor, friends or family stop you from doing all you can to get well again.

  6. Linda Reply

    I had my first right hip done 11/2007 with Encore metal/metal.Had severe pain could not walk without crutches.Had first revision 6/2008.The hip was found to be loose at the stem and cup.Continued to have pain, had another revision 8/2010 and had a poly liner put in to replace the metal liner. The doctor thought I was having ALVAL.I have had pain in the entire right leg since the first surgery.I now have severe nerve problems with both legs from the knee down. No explaination. There is no one I have found that will or can help me with my problem.

  7. joyce Reply

    I HAD A TOTAL HIP REPLACEMENT IN SEPT OF 2003. SINCE DAY ONE I HAVE HAD PROBLEMS, WENT TO THERAPY FOR 9 MOS. KEPT GOING TO DOCTORS AND EVERYONE SAID THERE WAS NO PROBLEM. COULD NOT WALK, COULD NOT LIFT MY LEG, COULD NOT SLEEP ON PAIN MEDICATION. I FINALLY FOUND A DOCTOR TO GO IN AND CHECK IT OUT . I HAD A ZIMMER WITH A PLASTIC LINER AND THE DOCTOR SAID IT WAS COMPLETELY WORN OUT!!! NO WONDER WHY I HAVE HAD SO MUCH PAIN AND STILL DO THIS IS RIDICULOUS TRYING TO FIND AN ATTORNEY FOR SOME COMPENSATION I HAVE SUFFERED LONG ENOUGH. NOW FROM WALKING CROOKED AND FAVORING MY LEFT HIP MY RIGHT HIP IS GOING I JUST CAN”T WAIT ***** WHAT NOW I HAD THIS DONE WHEN I WAS 52 I WILL BE IN A WHEEL CHAIR BY 70 I AM SO DISQUSTED YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS WHEN IT IS THE MEDICAL FIELD NOT HAPPY

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