• 15
  • February

New research recently presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in San Francisco shows that defective hip joints can continue to adversely affect patients even after they are removed, sometimes for years.

It has been known for several years that certain hip times, particularly those in which both the ball and cup are composed of metal, fail at faster rates than other types of hip implants.

Last Year, the Food and Drug Administration ordered 21 manufacturers of the medical devices to study patients who received metal on metal implants. What has become clear is that, while some of the devices have a worse record than others, nearly all of them have issues.

The devices reportedly pose the risk of important metal parts breaking off and lodging in nearby soft tissue and bone, and entering the blood stream. Inflammation and tissue death can occur around the joint. Rarely, heart and nervous system issues can arise. The devices have been known to have poor performance records, sometimes failing within several years despite being designed to last 15 years.

At present, roughly 500,000 Americans are estimated to have metal on metal hip replacements. And while many of them have good results, some have not.

Manufacturers are increasingly replacing metal components with other materials, such as plastic and ceramic.

When a metal on metal implant begins to fail, patients often notice pain, swelling and the onset of a limp. Anybody who has them needs to follow up with their orthopedic surgeon.

Source: USA Today, "Faulty hip implants may cause long-term health, joint damage," Janice Lloyd, February 7, 2012.