"The medical industry has defined wear debris from both metal and plastics medical devices, which have been liberated from aging and failed medical devices, as a serious systemic problem," says Rahn from her home in Kansas City, Missouri. "It creates a new illness the medical community calls 'particle disease.'"
Rahn's sister suffered complications connected to breast implants and her father developed "small eye tumors" following an intraocular lens implant to help him deal with macular degeneration. Her mother had three knee replacement surgeries and later died "a horrible death from lymphoma," as Rahn describes it.
"There is no one that will say there is a causal relationship between a medical device and lymphoma although there are some articles that point in that direction," says Rahn. "But I know that it was from having a medical device degrade inside her body."
On a mission to learn to alert patients and families about the hazards of placing foreign plastic and or metal objects inside the body, Rahn has spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, researching the topic.
A 3/3/10 article in the New York Times focused on some types of hip replacement devices that release metal debris as a result of the metal-on-metal grinding affect. Some surgeons are so concerned about wear debris that they are reluctant to continue using devices currently implanted in 250,000 patients annually in the US.
Rahn points to a May 2004 article in the Journal of Bone Joint Surgery that linked wear debris to chromosomal damage in hip replacement patients. But wear debris is not the only issue—the mere placement of a foreign object inside the body should be cause for alarm, says Rahn.
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Whether from wear or from the process of entropy, metal debris migrates into the lymphatic system, and from there into the blood supply and the rest of the body, says Rahn.
"While there are environmental, industrial and workplace limits and standards for exposure to toxic metals, such as cobalt and chromium, there are not any exposure standards or limits, to the same metals, if they are released inside the body from aging and degrading medical devices," she says. "I think that anyone considering a medical device should know that medical devices have been linked to cancer and other chronic non-treatable illnesses."
Ruby Rahn is a medical consumer activist concerned about the safety medical devices. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri.