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Study Finds Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Corrode More Quickly, Severely

May 8, 2012 — This month, a new study was published that found metal-on-metal hip implants corrode more quickly and more severely than metal-on-plastic hip replacements. The study, “Metal-on-Metal Local Tissue Reaction is Associated with Corrosion of the Head Taper Junction”, was published this month in the Journal of Arthroplasty.

In the study, researchers found that the grinding effect of the metal-on-metal design can shed particles of cobalt and chromium into nearby tissues. This can lead to elevated levels of metal ions in a patient’s bloodstream, local tissue reactions, metal poisoning (metallosis), cobalt poisoning, and other severe side effects.

Experts are now calling for these devices to be banned, because the risks outweigh the benefits compared to other hip replacement designs. Despite the risks associated with the metal-on-metal design, these hip implants continue to be regularly implanted in unsuspecting Americans. Multiple studies have found higher rates of complications with the metal-on-metal design, compared to metal-on-plastic or metal-on-ceramic designs.

The authors of this study examined 33 devices that were removed from patients, including 19 metal-on-metal hip implants, and 14 metal-on-plastic. They found that only 1 out of 19 metal-on-metal hip implants had no signs of corrosion. In contrast, 6 out of 14 metal-on-plastic implants had no signs of corrosion. In addition, 42% of the metal-on-metal implants showed corrosion outside of the taper zone, versus just 7% of the metal-on-plastic implants.

Corrosion grew more serious with time, and at all time intervals, the corrosion with the metal-on-metal design was greater than the metal-on-plastic design. The researchers concluded the study by expressing concern that the failure rate with metal-on-metal hip implants would increase with longer follow-up.

Unfortunately, the metal-on-metal hip implants were initially marketed toward younger, more active hip implant recipients. These younger patients may now have a higher risk of needing an additional hip replacement surgery if their metal-on-metal hip implant fails prematurely.

Do I have a Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Lawsuit?

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