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

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 has a metal ball and socket to replicate the ball and socket in the human hip joint. Only patients with a large implant head, a width greater than 36mm, need to have the yearly checkups, according to the UK’s Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Heads of this size are thought to wear down faster than smaller heads or heads made of ceramic or polyethylene.

When the implants wear down, they loosen and may dislocate. Tissue near the implant may become irritated, inflamed or infected. These problems might require patients to have another implant put in place.

In addition, small metal particles that the implants shed when the individual parts rub together can be released into the body through the blood stream. This can cause an increase in the amount of metal ions in the blood and may damage organs that are distant from the implant, including the heart, the nervous system and the thyroid gland.

Before metal was used in these prostheses, they were made of ceramic or polyethylene.

A recent controversy in Britain over the safety of Breast implants plus this new advisory has many British patients and the news media calling for tighter regulation of medical devices. Medical devices in the UK, as in the United States, don’t require the same degree of stringent testing as medications do before they are released onto the market.

The MHRA tells patients to see their doctor if they experience:

  • Pain in the groin, leg or hip
  • Swelling at the site of or near the implant
  • A limp or difficulty walking

Other changes in the patient’s overall health also should be reported to the doctor. These include—

  • Change in urinary habits
  • Changes in vision or hearing
  • Chest pain or shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Unexplained weight gain

The advisory does not apply to patients with hip implants made of materials other than metal or smaller implants, the MHRA warning said. In addition, only a minority of people in the UK have been implanted with prostheses with heads 36 mm or larger. About 2 percent (1,300) of the 68,907 hips implanted in 2010 had these larger types of metal heads.

Source: Sussex Express

If you’ve had problems with a metal-on-metal hip implant, contact a defective hip lawyer to find out if you qualify for compensation.