The British medical journal The Bone and Joint Journal is reporting that revision surgeries for metal-on-metal hip implants is rising significantly in the United Kingdom. The study looked at the rate of revision surgeries since 2007.
“The five-year revision rates were significantly increased for all primary MoM [total hip arthroplasties] undertaken from 2007 onwards,” researchers concluded in their study published in The Bone & Joint Journal.
Wear between the metallic parts in a hip implant can release microscopic amounts of cobalt, chromium and other metals into a patient’s body. This can lead to a condition called metallosis. It can destroy muscle and other tissue near the implant, cause the device to loosen and lead to other complications.
Health care professionals recommend patients with metal-on-metal hips undergo regular medical checkups, blood tests and imaging to monitor for metallosis.
While the study focused on a comparison of Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants in comparison with other models, the research found that revisions were necessary across the board irrespective of the model of the hip implant.
Researchers were able to tap into data from the U.K.’s National Joint Registry (NRJ) to look for trends.
The registry has tracked joint replacements and their follow ups in the U.K. since 2002. It is the largest registry of its kind in the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on the U.K. and Australian joint registries when it examined the effectiveness of metal-on-metal hip implants in 2012.
Earlier this month, the NY Times published an article detailing the dangers and consequences of failed metal-on-metal hips. The Times article highlighted the fact that metal-on-metal hips are essentially unregulated by the FDA and require very little if any testing before going to market. This most recent UK study serves to underscore the serious consequences of such scant attention to these medical devices.