Metal-on-metal hips found to have higher-than-average failure rates: study

A new study published in The Lancet medical journal confirms fears that metal-on-metal artificial hips are more prone to failure than other types of implant. In the case of metal-on-metal hips, this can mean that metal shavings are shed by the implant due to normal wear-and-tear. These shavings can then enter the bloodstream, exposing the rest of the body to toxic compounds.

Failure rates were especially high with larger-headed implants, and in women. All told, it appears that there is, on average, a 6.2% chance that patients receiving metal-on-metal implants will require additional surgery within five years. That percentage is three times as high as in the case of traditional implants.

Metal-on-metal hips were designed to outlast conventional artificial hips, in which a metal or ceramic head is connected to a plastic socket. However, this is clearly not the case. In fact, one such metal-on-metal implant was recalled by its manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.

The authors of the study, as well as other critics of metal-on-metal implants, argue that some of these defective products should never have been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (or its overseas equivalents). A streamlined, updated regulatory system could have prevented numerous health problems that have arisen as a result of these metal-on-metal implants.

The full Reuters report can be found here.