Wright Medical Hip Implant Metal-on-Metal

What Does Metal-on-Metal Mean?

Until about ten years ago, orthopedic implants were made from hard plastic or ceramic.

More recently, some implants have been made using all metal components. Metal-on-metal means that the parts of the implant that slide against each other are made of metal – cobalt and chromium. It was thought the metal would help the parts glide together more smoothly, dislocate less often and be more durable.

Two main parts of the hip implant are metal. They are the artificial cup, or socket, and the artificial ball, a globe-shaped part of the device that is at the top of the implant stem. The stem is inserted into the patient's femur or thigh bone. The ball at its top articulates within the socket, or acetabulum.

Patients and their doctors are finding that the implants are failing much sooner at a higher rate than previous implants, often within three to five years. Over 6 percent of patients with artificial hip implants had to replace them more often than every five years. Artificial hip implants are expected to survive for about 15 years.

In addition, doctors and patients have discovered that the metal parts, when they rub together, shed minute particles of debris, which can cause problems such as:

  • Irritation of the soft tissue and bone that surround the implant
  • Swelling and inflammation at this intersection
  • If the metal particles travel through the bloodstream, they can infiltrate distant organs and tissues

Before these problems became apparent, approximately one-third of metal-on-metal implants were used in somewhere near 250,000 hip replacement surgeries performed every year. That number is declining as the failure rate of the implants has come to light.

"In my personal opinion there is very little room, if any, for metal-on-metal implants because the alternatives we have on the market are likely safer and as effective," said Dr. Art Sedrakyan, professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

FDA to Review Safety of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Unlike other countries, the U.S. has not had a registry to follow the performance of metal-on-metal implants over time.

In late June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a meeting to consider the problems of the metal-on-metal implants and discussed combining data from the U.S. and other countries to find which groups of patients and implants presented the most problems.

Metal-on-metal implants were approved by the FDA under their fast-track system. According to this program, new devices that are similar to ones already approved and on the market, may also receive FDA approval. The fast-track approach has come in for much criticism from people who say these devices are not being adequately tested for safety and efficacy.

Talk to a Defective Hip Implant Lawyer

If you've experienced problems with an artificial hip implant, causing you to require revision surgery, you should speak with one of our defective hip implant lawyers. You may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries.

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Latest Metal On Metal Updates

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    January 26, 2016

    Thousands of people have required hip implant revision surgery or suffered serious complications after metal-on-metal or modular hip implant systems failed after being placed in their bodies. Now, however, thousands of hip recipients in Great Britain have a new defective … Read more

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  • First Wright Conserve Defective Hip Lawsuit goes before Jury

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  • FDA takes steps to Improved Medical Device Surveillance

    March 16, 2015

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  • Plaintiff in Smith & Nephew Hip Lawsuit must Amend Claim

    February 6, 2015

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  • 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

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    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

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