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FDA Cautions Use of Metal Hip Implants, Calls For Guidelines

On behalf of Kammholz Law PLLC posted in Medical Malpractice on Monday, July 2, 2012.

Over the past few years problems with metal-on-metal hip implants have been widely reported in the news, but until now the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the approval and use of the product, has been reluctant to make any formal statements regarding their use. Although the government agency is not yet ready to recommend their removal from the market, they are cautioning doctors and their patients about using metal-on-metal hip implants. According to the Huffington Post, the agency released a statement on Thursday saying they could only find limited reasons for their continued use. Metal-on-metal hip implants emerged about 10 years ago as a more durable substitute to ceramic and plastic hips. They quickly became the artificial hip of choice for many orthopedic surgeons. It did not take long, however, for problems with the hips to emerge, and a number of defective products lawsuits were filed. Not only were they not lasting as long as had been expected, but they were also causing additional injury in the process. Tiny bits of metal were being shaved off of them and implanting in the tissue and bone around the hip, causing painful inflammation and damage to the joint. In addition, there is evidence indicating metal-on-metal hips have led to increased levels of chromium, cobalt and other metals in the bloodstream, which may lead to other complications. The further understand the effects of metal-on-metal implants the FDA has asked a panel of experts to monitor the existing population of Americans with metal hip replacements. Currently, an estimated 400 Americans receive hip replacement surgery each year. Even without the FDA formally banning the use of artificial hips, medical professionals are taking notice. The number of doctors promoting metal hips is steadily declining. In 2010, only 27 percent of all doctors continued to recommend metal-on-metal hips. That number is a sharp decline from the figures in 2008, which showed that 40 percent of all doctors were using them. The sharp decline may be related to Johnson and Johnson's recall of over 93,000 hips in 2010. When artificial hips wear out, they require a replacement, which means more surgery and a painful recovery for the patient. With every surgery there is risk of surgical errors, adding additional complications and pain to an already difficult process. Source:, "Metal Hip Implants: FDA Panel Sees Little Reason For Their Use," Matthew Perrone, 28 June 2012

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