A 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.