Metal-on-metal hip implants are in the news again, as once more, a new study is putting procedures that utilize the controversial devices in an unfavorable light.  According to a study published in the Lancet, metal-on-metal hip resurfacing has higher failure rates compared to traditional hip replacement surgery, especially in women and patients of smaller stature.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have been making news for several years now, amid worries that chromium and cobalt ions shed from the devices can accumulate at dangerous levels in surrounding tissue, as well as patients’ blood streams.  When this occurs, many metal-on-metal hip implant patients experience pain and swelling, loosening of their implant, and an adverse tissue reaction known as metallosis.  Some studies have also indicated that patients who develop high levels of metal ions in their blood may be at risk for long-term health problems that impact other organs and systems far from the site of their hip surgery.

In recent years, a number of companies have issued recalls or been named in a large numbers of hip implant lawsuits because of the problems associated with metal-on-metal hip replacement devices.  For example, in August 2012, Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit  recalled its ASR hip devices – one used in total hip replacement and another used in hip resurfacing – after the implants were found to be failing in an unacceptable high number of people.  The DePuy ASR hip implants have been named in thousands of product liability lawsuits, as has a metal-on-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement device.  Other metal hip implants that are the subject of lawsuits include the Biomet M2a Magnum, Stryker’s recently recalled Rejuvenate and AGB II modular neck-stems, and Wright Medical’s Profemur and Conserve hip replacement systems.

Unlike total hip replacement surgery, hip resurfacing does not involve removal of the rounded top of the thighbone known as the femoral head.  Hip resurfacing procedures always require metal-on-metal bearings, whereas total hip replacement surgery may utilize metal, ceramic or plastic bearings.  The new metal-on-metal hip resurfacing study in the Lancet involved data from over 400,000 hip implant procedures in England and Wales that were performed during an eight year period.  Out of the procedures studied, some 32,000 were hip resurfacing surgeries.  The study revealed that:

  • Metal-on-metal hip resurfacing is more likely to fail overall.
  • Among women, metal-on-metal hip resurfacing was five times more likely to fail compared to total hip replacement surgeries with other materials.
  • Smaller metal-on-metal hip bearings were more likely to fail than their larger counterparts.
  • Only hip resurfacing performed on men that involved larger femoral heads had success rates similar to traditional hip replacement.

Because metal-on-metal hip resurfacing had such poor outcomes for women, authors of the Lancet study concluded that the procedure should never be performed in women.

Resurfacing procedures are most commonly performed on younger patients because it requires the removal of less bone.  The surgery is often touted as the route to a quicker recovery and ideal for people with an active lifestyle.   An editorial accompanying the Lancet study called on hip implant manufacturers to stop using the terms like “young and active” in their marketing.   “Communication with patients on all these issues should be more specific and evidence based,” it stated.

If you received a metal-on-metal hip implant device in a resurfacing procedure or total hip replacement surgery  and experienced problems such as pain, infection, and metallosis that required or will require revision surgery to have the device removed, contact a hip recall lawyer to learn how to protect your legal rights. You may be entitled to file a metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuit seeking compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Call today for a free metal-on-metal lawsuit case review: (877) 779-1414.

Published October 4, 2012 by