All-metal hip implants put patients at risk (1 of 2)

A 57-year-old woman found out that she needed hip replacement surgery in 2009. Because she was relatively young and led an active life, her orthopedic surgeon recommended an all-metal hip implant. He reasoned that a new all-metal artificial hip would last longer than the older models made of tough plastic and metal.

However, the woman recently needed a second hip replacement surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to have the all-metal hip implant removed after it began eating away at the surrounding bone and soft tissue. The woman said the problem implant caused her constant pain and she needed pain medication to be able to sleep at night.

A year after the woman began having problems with her implant she found out that her all-metal hip replacement, which was made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson called DePuy, had been recalled.

Many other people are now finding themselves in similar situations. In fact, in 2009, about 1 in 3 hip-replacement patients across the nation were getting the same all-metal device, adding up to about 80,000 people.

Even though the chairman of orthopedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said that most people who received the all metal hip replacements are not having troubles, he said that the failure rate of the device is “unacceptably high.”

Some of the reported complications from the all metal hip replacements have included infection, inflammation, muscle damage, tendon damage and nerve damage. Metal debris can also wear off when the ball and joint scrape together which could cause heart failure, thyroid problems, blindness and cognitive impairment

Please check back later this week for more on this important issue.

Source: NPR, “Prone To Failure, Some All-Metal Hip Implants Need To Be Removed Early,” Richard Knox, March 19, 2012