Metal-on-Metal Implants

The most popular materials for hip implants recently have been several metals – titanium, stainless steel and chromium. The design is called metal-on-metal because the two main parts of the artificial hip joint, the acetabulum, or hip socket, and the femoral head, a rounded piece of metal that is the ball portion of this ball and socket joint. The femoral head fits into and rotates within the acetabulum, simulating the motion of the natural hip joint.

The metal-on-metal design became popular because this combination lasts longer than metal-on-plastic, the previous hip prosthesis design. A newer combination of materials, metal-on-highly cross-linked polyethylene, a very strong plastic, is being used for some implants. Time will tell if this combination lasts longer than current materials.

Metal-On-Metal Hip Replacement Complications

There are two main problems with the metal-on-metal implants:

  • They are failing earlier than normal
  • They shed metal debris into the body

About 12 percent of the metal-on-metal implants have been failing in the first three years after implantation. The average life of most implants is 15 years or longer.

Metal Debris

The metal debris results from the friction caused by the implant components rubbing together as a patient walks or runs. The metal debris can cause inflammation of nearby tissue and might destroy the bone holding it. The debris can also travel through the bloodstream and affect different organs and tissues throughout the body. Potential risks include effects on the nervous system, heart and thyroid gland.

FDA Has Concerns

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), at this point, it is impossible to determine who will have a reaction to the metal debris and how bad the reaction will be. In an effort to determine how bad the risk is, on May 6, 2011, the FDA ordered the 21 manufacturing companies that make metal-on-metal hip implants to conduct safety studies on the metal-on-metal prostheses implanted.

The FDA sent 145 orders to 21 manufacturers. The manufacturers will need to keep track of adverse events that may be associated with increased levels of cobalt and chromium in the bloodstream.

According to an article in the New York Times, a recent editorial in a medical journal for orthopedic surgeons, The Journal of Arthroplasty, urged doctors to use the metal-on-metal devices only with "great caution, if at all."

It is estimated that between 1 and 3 percent of implant recipients have had problems with the metal-on-metal design. That number could quickly add up, however, considering the thousands of implants done every year.

Contact our defective hip attorneys to find our if your hip replacement failure case is eligible for compensation.

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Latest Metal On Metal Updates

  • Has your Hip been Recalled or Deemed Defective?

    January 15, 2015

    Recently, defective hip implants have received heavy media coverage as plaintiffs continue to come forward to file personal injury lawsuits after they experience injury or premature hip implant failure due to allegedly defective medical devices. What makes these stories particularly … Read more

  • Study Supports Claims of Metal-on-Metal Hip Injuries

    June 26, 2014

    A recent study has presented evidence in support of claims that metal toxicity may lead to an early failure rate for metal-on-metal hip recipients. The study, published in March 2014 in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, compared levels … Read more

  • Recipients of Metal Hip Implants Should be Tested for Injury

    May 8, 2014

    A consumer advocacy group urges all recipients of metal hip implants to undergo an MRI to identify any signs of premature implant failure or dangerous side effects. Our network of national defective hip implant lawyers agree with the group and … Read more

  • UK Metal-on-Metal Hip Patients Need Annual Check Up

    August 9, 2012

    Patients in the United Kingdom who have certain types of metal-on-metal hip (MoM) implants should have annual checkups for as long as they have their implants, according to the agency that regulates medical devices in Britain. A MoM hip implant … Read more

  • FDA Holds 2-Day Session to Discuss Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

    June 27, 2012

    According to experts, metal-on-metal hip implants may cause serious injuries that require patients to undergo a second surgery, known as revision surgery. Small metal fragments can shed off the implants as the parts rub against each other, causing inflammation and … Read more

  • Metal Hip Implants Threaten Health of Millions, Researchers Say

    March 1, 2012

    Toxic minute particles of chromium and cobalt from metal-on-metal hip implants are seeping into the bloodstreams of millions of people around the world, CBS news reports. Hip implants that have metal parts that rub against each other may be shedding … Read more

  • FDA to Test the Safety of Metal-on Metal Hip Implants

    June 1, 2011

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered makers of metal-on-metal hip implants to conduct thorough safety tests to determine the potential risks associated with the metal implants. Evidence has been building that the metal components might pose serious health … Read more

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