Amid a growing firestorm of controversy surrounding defective metal hip implants, the British Hip Society is now urging physicians in the UK to stop using the all-metal devices in patients requirement hip replacement surgery. The warning comes just days after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued new guidelines for metal hip implant recipients, advising these patients to seek lifetime monitoring to detect the presence of abnormal levels of metal ions in the blood.
Health regulators and medical professionals in both the U.S. and the UK have continued to question the safety of metal hip implants, specifically those manufactured by DePuy Orthopedics, a division of the Johnson & Johnson Company. An estimated 93,000 DePuy ASR Hips were recalled in 2010 after it was determined that the devices were failing prematurely at a significantly higher rate than expected. In the U.S., both DePuy and Johnson & Johnson have been targeted by numerous lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who say they experienced serious complications after being fitted with an ASR hip. The all-metal hips have reportedly caused pain, inflammation, tissue damage, loss of mobility and the need for additional surgery to correct these problems.
More recently, researchers have suggested that metal hip implants may also be responsible for much more serious complications, including the potential for heart problems. It’s believed that as the metal head and cup components of the artificial hips rub together, small particles of chromium and cobalt are shed into the tissue surrounding the joint. As the level of metal ions in the blood increases, metal hip recipients may experience systemic toxicity, which can eventually lead to other serious conditions, including cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s function. Additional research has also suggested that the metal implants may be linked to an elevated risk of developing cancer, but research in this area remains inconclusive.
Concerns over the safety of the metal hip implants has spread to other parts of Europe, including the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. This is based in part on a recent report that Johnson & Johnson continued to market an ASR hip resurfacing system to doctors overseas for at least a year after the Food and Drug Administration blocked its sale in the U.S. An internal email report has revealed that executives at Johnson & Johnson and DePuy may have been aware of problems with the ASR hips in 2009, long before the recall was ever issued.
Patients around the world are being urged to seek medical advice if they believe they’re experiencing adverse complications caused by a metal hip implant. Individuals who were fitted with a DePuy ASR or Pinnacle hip are also encouraged to speak with an experienced DePuy hip injury attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a claim for compensation.