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What is the problem with metal on metal hip implants?

The last few days has seem a number of articles in the press concerning this type of hip replacement and the advice that patients with such implants should have an x-ray and blood tests to establish whether they have suffered muscle or bone damage and metal toxicity. It is estimated over 50 000 patients have had this type of implant fitted and the advice to undergo checks has been issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Dr Neil McGuire, MHRA’s clinical director of medical devices said, “Although the majority of patients with these metal on metal devices have well-functioning hips, it is known some may develop soft tissue reactions related to their implant”.

Muscle damage caused by the implants can become progressively worse without any noticeable symptoms. I recently acted for a client who had a metal on metal implant in 2007. He did have symptoms from an early stage post surgery but it wasn’t until 3 years later, following a scan and blood tests, it was identified he would need a new hip replacement. Due to the way the metal components had been implanted there was increased wear and tear which, in turn, caused metal debris from the implants to come away and high levels of cobalt and chromium were found in his blood. This had caused damage to the soft tissues and bone around the hip joint. His case was settled out of court.

Fortunately the vast majority of hip replacements are successful and safe but the MHRA advises you contact your GP or the surgeon who performed the operation if you have any concerns.

Let us take it from here.

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