UK surgeon warns public about dangers of all-metal hip implants, especially for women
Some surgeons in Great Britain are so alarmed over the failure rate of all-metal hip resurfacing devices that they no longer offer them as a regular option to women, according to a report in the Daily Mail. Tony Nargol, one of the orthopedic surgeons in the U.K. steering women away from all-metal hip implants, told the Daily Mail that women are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of hip implants featuring all-metal components, but nobody knows for certain why this is the case.
Some studies suggest that women are more likely than men to suffer problems with their artificial hips because hip replacement problems tend to occur in people with smaller hips, according to data pulled from joint registries. Women tend to have smaller hips, or femoral heads below 50 mm in diameter, which makes them more susceptible to problems with their hip implants than men, some doctors believe.
Data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales warns that 12 -13 percent of the hip implants recalled by DePuy last year fail within the first five years. And, although many men have been affected by the faulty implants “resurfacing and stemmed metal-on-metal devices do particularly badly in women of all ages,” the same joint registry found.
Hip resurfacing is often offered as an alternative to total hip replacement, usually to younger patients who may need a total hip replacement in their older age. Hip resurfacing involves reconditioning the hip socket and top of the thigh bone with metal caps, thereby sparing the bones that are modified to accommodate a full hip replacement system.
The problem with all metal-on-metal hip implants, however, is that friction between the parts can release metal debris into the body, triggering tissue decay, acute pain, bone fracturing, and the development of tumors in some patients. Still other patients who are especially sensitive to elevated levels of metal in their blood may develop a spectrum of ailments related to metal poisoning, though doctors are unsure why these patients react so poorly while others fare well.
Penny Brown, a 51-year-old U.K. resident who once served as a spokeswoman and poster child for DePuy’s recalled implants, underwent a hip resurfacing procedure when she was 43. But now she is one of hundreds of DePuy hip implant recipients in the U.K. who have filed claims against the manufacturer, seeking compensation for the extreme pain and difficulty their implants caused.
Ms. Brown’s hip implant started to break down recently, forcing her to undergo revision surgery to have the faulty implant removed and replaced. Her hip bone broke during the revision surgery, and she hasn’t been able to work for a year. She is still in recovery.
Although some metal-on-metal hip implants perform better than others, evidence suggests all brands and types are inherently riskier than hip devices made with ceramic and plastic parts.
“We have been saying to the world that these implants are wearing out and there could be enormous problems ahead, but we need to ensure the public gets the message,” Dr. Nargol told the Daily Mail. “The most important advice for anyone who has had one of these implants is to get a blood test,” he added.
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- The Sciatic Nerve and Your DePuy Hip Implant | Levin Papantonio Law Firm (earlsview.com)
- US Drug Watchdog Says It’s Urgent They Identify All Recalled DePuy ASR Hip Implant Recipients (earlsview.com)
- Financial Relationships Between Surgeons and Hip Implant Makers (earlsview.com)
- DePuy Metal on Metal Hip Implant Lawsuit News – Hip replacement poisoning (earlsview.com)
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- Thousands of Scots set for payouts over faulty hip replacements – The Daily Record (earlsview.com)
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