Health regulators in the United Kingdom have launched an investigation into the safety of metal hip implants, including those manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics. The safety review was spurred by warnings from health care advisors who believe the devices could potentially cause metal poisoning.
According to The Telegraph, advisors to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency believe that the all-metal hips could cause “systemic toxicity”, which could lead to complications involving the nervous system, heart, lungs and other organs. The toxicity is believed to be linked to the shedding of small metal particles into the body, caused by the friction created as the metal hip components rub together.
The MHRA says it will continue to monitor the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants to evaluate the poisoning risk. The agency is currently drawing up a new safety alert to warn patients of the potential dangers. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Britons currently have a metal hip implant device. This includes an estimated 10,000 patients who were implanted with the now-recalled DePuy ASR hips.
In 2010, Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics opted to issue a voluntary recall of its ASR hips after a research study indicated that the devices had a significantly high failure rate compared to other artificial hips. The recall came after the National Joint Registry of England And Wales estimated that approximately 12 to 13 percent of patients who received an ASR hip experienced premature failure within the first five years. A recent report by the British Hip Society claims that the failure rates of the ASR hips could actually be as high as 50% six years after surgery.
Following the recall, the MHRA advised orthopedic surgeons to offer patients who had received a Depuy metal hip routine follow-up care to check for complications, including metal poisoning. The British Orthopaedic Assocation (BOA) has reportedly expressed concerns that patients have not been properly advised of the risks and estimates that as many as two-thirds of hip implant recipients have yet to be screened for side effects.
Patients who were fitted with one of these devices are urged to consult a physician if they experience any symptoms of metal poisoning or other complications. These include:
- Pain or swelling in the hip or groin area
- Decreased mobility
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Feeling of fatigue
- Weight gain or loss
- Frequent infections
- Feelings of numbness, tingling, paralysis
Patients who experience problems with their defective metal hip often have to undergo additional revision surgery to replace the device. Metal hip failure can leave impacted patients struggling to recover physically, emotionally and financially.
If you’ve been diagnosed with metal poisoning after receiving a DePuy hip implant, you may be eligible to file a compensation claim for your injuries. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer is your first step to protecting your legal rights.