Latest updates on hip replacement surgery

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Metal-on-metal (MoM) hip replacement implants have been considered as one of the major advancements in orthopedic medicine, permitting hip replacement surgery to be conducted not only in older adults but also in younger, more active individuals, medical experts say. Despite the benefits these innovative medical devices have to offer, all-metal hip devices have also been surrounded with controversies that describe their safety on a different light. They have been the center of a growing number of hip replacement lawsuits currently being faced by leading orthopedic device manufacturers in the United States and the subject of numerous research studies year after year.

One of these studies involved a retrospective review of about 400,000 hip replacement procedures performed between 2003 and 2011. Findings by a group of British researchers reportedly revealed that patients with MoM hip implants may be more likely to require additional surgery to repair or replace their device.  After gathering and analyzing data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales, the research team found that nearly six percent of patients who received MoM implants had to undergo another surgical procedure to replace them. Researchers indicated that only 1.7 to 2.3 percent of patients who received ceramic or plastic joints required revision surgery.

In view of these findings, study authors reportedly called on doctors to cease the use of MoM hip implants. Study author Ashley Blom from the University of Bristol also added that patients who do not require total hip replacement have no reason to take the risk of undergoing the procedure, especially with various alternative treatment options in place. The government-funded study was published online in The Lancet in March 2012.

Additionally, MoM hip devices have been associated with elevated levels of potentially toxic metals in a patient’s blood, according to online media reports. In a safety communication released by the US Food and Drug Administration in January 2013, the federal agency raised the alarm over the propensity of all-metal devices to release minute metal particles at the site where two components connect.

As this occurs, metal debris may accumulate in tissues and bones surrounding the implant, rendering recipients susceptible to pain, inflammation, and soft tissue damage. These metal ions may also be distributed through a patient’s bloodstream, bringing about systemic reactions or illnesses elsewhere in the body. Moreover, such adverse event may also cause a hip device to come loose, precipitating dislocation or even premature implant failure.

A large number of MoM hip implant recipients who may have undergone a revision surgery due to early hip device failure have started filing lawsuits against various hip replacement device makers in the US. Relevant information regarding these hip replacement lawsuits and other concerns involving hip replacement implants are also featured on some personal injury law firm sites.

The author is a health writer and researcher from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


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