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Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Research Indicates Health Problems Could be Long-Lasting

Filed February 9th, 2012 Julie

New research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Francisco reveals that metal-on-metal hip implants pose health problems even after they are removed.

The hips are implanted in tens of thousands of Americans and are failing at faster rates than other implants. Not only are they failing at astonishing rates, they leave behind problems that plague people well beyond their removal. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration ordered 21 manufacturers to study patients who received metal-on-metal implants, and was forced to recall one of the implants in 2010.

“This is a serious problem in the USA,” said Mathias Bostrom, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “Some implants have a worse record than others, but almost all the metal-on-metal implants have issues.”

The damage occurs when the metal-on-metal device begins shedding miniscule metal shavings into the body. The metal debris can cause soft tissue damage and bone damage, and can enter the bloodstream, resulting in inflammation and tissue death around the joint, as well as heart and nervous system problems in rare occasions.

The problem is so widespread, according to orthopedic surgeon Douglas Padgett, of the Hospital for Special Surgery, a study he was involved in found 98% of the cups and 93% of the balls showed “moderate to severe scratching” in 46 retrieved metal-on-metal implants.

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