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Radio New Zealand : News : National : Warning issued about hip implant.

Warning issued about hip implant

Updated at 8:45 pm on 4 October 2012

Hundreds of New Zealanders face extra monitoring by their surgeon following the latest withdrawal of a total hip replacement device.

An alert was issued late on Wednesday to all orthopaedic surgeons telling them another metal-on-metal hip replacement is not performing well. It is the fourth such recall in two years.

Total hip replacements using all metal parts are under scrutiny internationally amid worries about loosening, movement and whether tiny pieces of metal may be breaking off and leaking into patients‘ blood.

The latest alert concerns a British-made total hip replacement model known as the Birmingham Hip Modular Head made by Smith and Nephew. Between 250 and 400 New Zealanders have this implant and surgeons say they will contact all patients.

Bryan Thorn, president of the Orthopaedic Association, says it doesn’t matter if a person can’t remember what type of implant they have, as the details are freely available and their surgeon can tell them.

He says if patients don’t hear from their surgeon, they should contact them and should certainly phone if they experience any pain.

The Ministry of Health‘s Medsafe group, headed by Stewart Jessamine, says metal-on-metal implants represent just 10% of all total hip replacements and most last well.

Dr Jessamine says Medsafe is monitoring the situation closely and the latest alert amounted to early intervention by the manufacturer based on a small increase in the failure rate.

He says it does not mean patients will need more surgery, but they will need close follow-up.

However, one patient, Aucklander James Elliott, is renewing his call for a parliamentary inquiry into the use of all such implants by about 1100 New Zealanders.

“With the avalanche that it’s now becoming, I think we’re seeing that perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with the technology, particularly in terms of metal-on-metal as being the preferred device for longevity for these sorts of prosthetics.”

Mr Elliot is supported by Labour Party health spokesperson Maryan Street, who says an inquiry could prevent similar problems in future.

The Orthopaedic Association says it is not clear yet who will pay for the costs of the latest alert.