FDA Probing Safety of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Publication: U.S. News and World Report

Author: Steven Reinberg


06/27/2012 - While thousands of Americans have benefited from hip replacements over the years, problems with metal-on-metal implants can lead to troubles requiring surgery to replace defective devices, experts say.

Specifically, experts say, tiny fragments of metal can shear off from these joints, causing chronic pain or infection and raising levels of metals in the bloodstream. Experts estimate that more than 500,000 Americans have received a metal-on-metal hip joint, mostly between 2003 and 2010.

Worry over the failure rate of the implants, and the speed at which they were initially approved for the U.S. market, has led to a special two-day session, beginning Wednesday, by experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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But others say that when it comes to complications, metal-on-metal implants are in a class of their own. Writing earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Joshua Rising of the Pew Charitable Trusts, and colleagues said that "there is now compelling evidence that these implants fail at a higher rate than hip prostheses made of other materials; indeed, one type of metal-on-metal hip has a failure rate of nearly 50 percent at 6 years." 

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Read the full article, FDA Probing Safety of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants, on U.S. News and World Report's website. 

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