Dangers of DePuy’s Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

When first introduced, the metal-on-metal hip implants were lauded as a breakthrough in medical device technology. They were designed to last longer and used in younger, more active patients. The conventional wisdom was that such a device would actually be more durable and allow the hip implant patient more flexibility with less wear and tear with a lesser chance of dislocation than the traditional metal and ceramic hip implants. These new metal-on-metal hips were considered to be state of the art and the wave of the future.
The DePuy ASR XL was first introduced onto the marketplace in 2005. Problems with the metal-on-metal DePuy first began to surface in 2007 in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, because the United States has no medical device registry system it’s hard to determine the nature and extent of the first reported problems in the United States.
The reported problems with the DePuy hips included pain in the joint and groin area, swelling, numbness, and a loss of feeling in the lower extremities. A further complication from these hips includes metallosis or metal poisoning wherein the wear and tear of the metal components cause tiny particles of metal to enter the bloodstream. This complication can be very serious and can only be detected through a specific blood test. Anyone with a metal-on-metal hip implant should consult their physician for such a blood test since there are may not be early physical symptoms associated with metallosis. Metallosis may cause implant loosening that cause pain, swelling, surrounding tissue damage, and difficulty walking.
The growing number of reported issues with the DePuy ASR XL hip led to a recall of the medical device in August 2010. In February 2011, the FDA created a section dedicated to the issue of metal-on-metal hip implants with specific information related to the DePuy ASR XL recall.