United Kingdom Bans Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence found too high a rate of failure in the devices

In light of new guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has banned most metal-on-metal hip implants in all hospitals funded by NHS. Since few of these implants would meet the new standards set by NICE, the ban would affect nearly all manufacturers of metal-on-metal devices.

Moreover, since the United Kingdom’s public health system is fully funded by the NHS, every hospital in the country falls under the ban. A study conducted by NICE among the devices implanted in 17,000 patients showed unacceptably high failure rates.

Metal-on-metal hip replacement failures include loosening and dislocation of the joint as well as the release of metal ions into surrounding tissue and the bloodstream caused by friction when the metal components rub together. The release of metal ions is known as metallosis. If left untreated, metallosis can lead to bone damage and tissue death. Removal of the defective device and new hip implant replacement is the only way to treat metallosis.

Speaking on the results of the study, honorary consultant surgeon at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, Stephen Cannon said, “The figures speak for themselves – even the best metal-on-metals have four times the failure rate of the rest. This is really a significant problem, because these were given to an awful lot of people.”

The ban goes into effect immediately and lists metal-on-metal devices such as those manufactured by Zimmer Durom, Biomet Recap-Magnum, DePuy ASR and Pinnacle. Metal-on-metal implants continue to be used in the United States where hip implant lawsuits continue to mount.

Lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers such as Stryker DePuy and Zimmer in the states. Metallosis, pain and reduced mobility are just some of the claims. Just a few short years after the replacement, plaintiffs have had to undergo risky revision surgery to replace the defective devices with new implants.

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