With the Food and Drug Administration set to look into the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants, it’s important to look back on some of the events and research which brought us to this juncture.
In March, researchers from Britain conducted a study that analyzed the National Joint Registry of England and Wales in order to compile data relating to some 400,000 implants that were given to patients between 2003 and last year. Of the hundreds of thousands of implants looked at, 31,000 or so were metal-on-metal, with the remaining devices composed at least partially of plastic or ceramics.
The study, which the National Joint Registry funded, found that 6% of metal-on-metal implant recipients needed corrective surgery within the first five years of use. This comes despite the fact that these devices should last over a decade. Other types of hip implants failed at a relatively more acceptable 1.7 or 2.3% rate.
The author of the study said that the number of failed units might in fact be greater, as many people who have failed prostheses implanted probably don’t report their symptoms, opting to deal with the pain rather than go in for a dangerous corrective surgery.
The study’s author advised patients not to risk getting a metal-on-metal device installed, given the threat that’s become readily apparent.