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Metal-on-Metal Devices Fail at Alarming Rate

Hip ReplacementA recent report warns that metal-on-metal hip implants are failing at an alarming rate. Hip implants such as the DePuy Pinnacle Ultamet and the DePuy Orthopedic ASR, which have been recalled, fail in one-third of patients. Metal-on-metal hip replacement devices were designed to be more durable than traditional hip replacement devices; however, they have a significantly higher early failure rate than hip replacement devices made with ceramic and plastic components.

Artificial hips are typically expected to last 15 years before replacement is needed. Some reports indicate that all-metal hips are failing after only five or six years. Failure of a hip implant device often causes extreme pain and mobility issues, and may require the patient to undergo revision surgery which comes with an added risk of complications.

A concern with all-metal hip replacement devices is that debris can come loose from the joint and be absorbed by the patient’s soft tissue surrounding the joint, creating a condition known as metallosis. The uncertain effects of any release of cobalt and chromium ions into the patient’s blood are also a concern.

Of the patients who received the now recalled DePuy Orthopedic ASR implant six years ago, approximately 30 percent have already undergone revision surgery. In patients who received the same device five years ago, around 17 percent have had it replaced. It is unknown whether the DePuy Pinnacle Ultamet will also be recalled.

Many patients who receive these implants are first injured on the job and these devices are implanted with their workers compensation doctors.

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