The US FDA is convening a meeting to help decide the future of metal-on-metal hip implants following high profile recalls and mounting questions about their overall safety.
The FDA has already ordered 33 manufacturers of these artificial joints to conduct post-market safety studies after it received nearly 3,000 adverse event reports from recipients of all- metal hips who suffered adverse symptoms within months of receiving them.
Metal-on-metal hip implants have been the course of controversy since shortly after they were introduced as an alternative to the traditional implants that used plastic or ceramic components. It was claimed that metal would last longer and would be more suitable for younger patients, that they would require less replacement surgeries, lasting closer to 20 years when older devices usually need to be replaced after 15 years of use.
Thousands of Irish patients now depend on all metal hip implants like the DePuy Orthopaedic ASR and Pinnacle models, as well as others manufactured by the Wright Medical Group and Zimmer Holdings. Thousands of Patients have experienced complications soon after receiving their new artificial hips, suffering injuries ranging from pain and inflammation at the site of the surgery to fractured devices.
Metal-on-metal implants also are different to other implant devices in that they are the only ones which disperse small metallic fragments into a recipients blood stream, their surrounding tissue and organs. If this goes unnoticed, toxic levels of Cobalt and Chromium can accumulate and lead to metal poisoning , metallosis, that can cause organ damage and failure.
Some studies have found that metal-on-metal hip implants like the DePuy ASR, have failed early in between 13-30 % of recipients. This can result in costly and painful revision surgeries, more rehabilitation visits and the eventual need for an early replacement surgery.