It’s about time… After half a million people have received metal on metal hip implants, and hundreds of thousands have had severe problems with those hip implants, the FDA is finally “reviewing” the safety issues that have come up.
Half A Million Americans Have Metal-On-Metal Implants
Why does it take so long? Part of it is that there’s no national registry. Those exist in Australia and in the United Kingdom, where alarms have been raised about metal-on-metal hip implants for a while.
If you have a metal on metal implant, you’re probably familiar with what they are – both ball and socket are made out of metal. It sounded good in theory, but it has turned into a nightmare for countless hip replacement patients.
Metal On Metal Implants Were Supposed To Be Safer…
When they first came out about 10 years ago, they were supposed to be a big improvement over the older implants, which were made out of plastic or ceramic. The idea was that they were less prone to wear and tear and also less likely to dislocate.
But Ten Years Later, They Turned Out To Be Far More Dangerous
Ten years later, it turns out that metal on metal implants may actually be more dangerous than their older alternatives.
Not only did patients have problems with swelling and pain more frequently and much earlier than with the older implants. There’s also the problem of metal poisoning.
Heavy Metal Poisoning – Are YOU At Risk?
Metal poisoning? Yes! As the two metal surfaces rub against each other day in and day out, microscopic particles are released into the surrounding tissue – and into the blood stream. And the heavy metals, cobalt and chromium in particular, are not something you want in your bloodstream.
Why Metal Poisoning Is Flying Under The Radar
The problem is that the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning are not immediately associated with a hip implant. That’s because systemic problems, like fatigue, memory loss, balance issues, and so on can be attributed to all sorts of other sources, and may therefore be misdiagnosed for a long time – while the damage caused by the heavy metal poisoning continues to accrue.
The FDA Is FINALLY Looking Into It…
At least it’s now out in the open, and the FDA actually held a 2-day meeting recently, where they took a closer look at the safety (issues) of metal-on-metal hip implants. What took them so long? After all, patients have been complaining for years, and tens of thousands had to have their hip implants replaced!
What about the comparative numbers? Well, hip replacements are supposed to be good for at least 10 to 15 years. And while early failure does happen, the number has been generally less than 2%. Not so with metal-on-metal implants. Those had to be replaced in more than 6% of the patients. That’s more than three times as many as was the case with the older models.
Sometimes, progress isn’t progress at all…
In Great Britain, it’s now recommended that anyone who has a metal-on-metal implant should get a blood test at least once a year. The FDA has yet to make such as recommendation.
What You Should Do
What should YOU do? Be proactive! Get your blood checked if you’re one of the half millions Americans who has a metal-on-metal hip replacement implant. As I mentioned above, the symptoms of metal poisoning are often subtle or atypical, so you really need a blood test to be sure – and to catch any problems early.
Which brands of implants are metal-to-metal implants?
Here are the main ones:
- DePuy ASR and Pinnacle (parent company Johnson & Johnson)
- Zimmer Durom Cup
- Stryker Rejuvenate
- Wright Profemur (and Conserve)
- Biomet Magnum (and M2A)
If you have any of the above metal-on-metal hip implants, you need to get your blood checked – and you also need to speak with a legal advisor.
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