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Report Cites Hip Implant Failures

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Boston, MAA new report in the British Medical Journal indicates that all-metal hip implant failures may be just as common as traditional hip replacement failures. Furthermore, the metal-on-metal hip implants may be less safe than traditional hip implants and may have a higher hip revision surgery rate. Hip implant lawsuits have been filed against the maker of some metal-on-metal devices, alleging the devices were negligently designed.

According to the British Medical Journal (11/29/11), researchers conducted a systematic review of clinical trials, observational studies and medical registries to compare the safety and effectiveness of a variety of hip implants. These included combinations of metal, ceramic and polyethylene hip implants. Included in the study was information provided by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Researchers found that one study reported fewer hip dislocations associated with the use of metal-on-metal devices. On the other hand, three other trials did not support that finding and three registries reported "Substantially higher occurrence of revision associated with metal on metal implants compared with metal on polyethylene bearing."

Furthermore, "There was also evidence from one trial that patients receiving metal on metal implants have a lower quality of life (functional component) than patients receiving metal on polyethylene bearing." Researchers noted that although the differences in quality of life may not be clinically relevant, they could be considered as a focus for future studies concerning metal-on-metal hip implants.

The study authors noted that every year more than 700,000 joint replacements are performed in the US, with more than 270,000 of those being hip replacements. They project that in the next decade the annual volume of hip joint replacement will double, with costs associated with hip replacement tripling in five years.

Since metal-on-metal hip devices were released on the market, they have made up approximately one out of three hip replacement surgeries. In 2010, however, the DePuy ASR was recalled in the US because of reports of an unusually high failure rate among the metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. The US has asked companies that manufacture metal-on-metal hip implant devices to provide more information about their safety records. Some patients who allege they suffered pain and injury as a result of metal-on-metal hip devices have filed lawsuits.

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