Metal on Metal Hip Replacements Risk - Cause for Concern?

There is much in the media this week regarding the growing concerns in the medical profession about the safety of metal on metal hip replacements.  The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are launching an investigation into the safety of these implants.

These types of prosthesis became common from the mid-1990’s in preference to the traditional type of prosthesis of metal ball in plastic socket. With the metal on metal hip replacement the metal femoral ball which sits on the top of the leg fits into the metal acetabular socket which is attached to the hip.

Studies have shown an increase in failure rate of the metal on metal prosthesis and, of more concern to recipients, evidence to a reaction to a build up of metal debris from the wear and tear of the socket and a reaction to the metal itself.

Problems occur when the friction between the metal ball and the cup causes tiny metal filings to break off and potentially seep into the blood. These can also cause a soft tissue reaction which can go on to affect muscle and bone.

Those patients with metal on metal prosthesis should be reviewed annually. Of particular concern was the De Puy models now taken off the market in September 2010.

Patients should have been told what type of prosthesis was used in their hip replacement procedure. Those with a De Puy prosthesis should have already been called back for checks however, if you are concerned at all with regard to whether you should be reviewed and as to what type of prosthesis was used it is recommended that you contact the hospital where the procedure was carried out.

The MHRA has stressed that the majority of people with such devices are at “low risk of developing serious problems” but if you have any concerns the advice is to contact your doctor.

Complaints of discomfort in the groin, discomfort in the outside of  the hip or buttock or a  mass or visible swelling around the hip, clicking or clanking of the hip or the patient saying the hip gives way should prompt a referral to an orthopaedic specialist ( British Medical Journal).

If you require any advice or assistance with regard to metal on metal hip replacements then please contact a member of our clinical negligence team on 0800 954 9936