This blog has already discussed the Food and Drug Administration’s intentions to review the safety (or lack thereof) of metal-on-metal hip implants, the installation of which has caused numerous problems in patients. This report sheds further light on what led officials to this turning point.
In February, BBC Newsnight and the British Medical Journal reported on the work of researchers looking into the potential for metal-on-metal hip implants to infect their users with heightened quantities of dangerous toxins. Their findings were eye-opening. They discovered that ions of cobalt and chromium can emanate from the metal hip implants and pass into the tissue surrounding the device.
Should a patient be afflicted with an increase in cobalt and chromium levels, the spleen, kidneys, liver, lymph nodes, muscle, and bones could sustain damage. There’s also a worry that the damage could extend to the genetic structure of an individual, but the repercussions of this chromosome damage can’t be immediately evaluated.
A representative from the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group said that the recipients of metal-on-metal hip implants were basically unwilling participants to an uncontrolled experiment. The safety of the devices, he continued, can’t be truly comprehended and evaluated until many people have already been implanted with the devices.
Potentially even more troublesome is the fact that a 2005 memo recently unearthed suggests Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy division understood the potential danger their devices posed but they moved forward anyway.