Experts are raising fresh concerns that metal-on-metal hip implants are leaching toxic chemicals into the blood, causing serious health complications. Doctors are being urged to check patients for signs of dementia or heart disease in patients with these implants.
In June, the MHRA announced that patients with these devices would be called for x-rays and blood tests to check for adverse reactions. The MHRA will also be checking for a possible link to heart attacks and dementia.
Dr Neil McGuire, clinical director of medical devices at the MHRA wants to establish whether cobalt leached from the implants was causing adverse effects. In a statement to The Times, Dr McGuire said “It may turn out that we’re chasing smoke, but it may not. If we do find something we’re not going keep quiet about it”.
“We’re always balancing depriving people of the benefits of these devices versus protecting people from harm”.
The hip implant scandal – history In 2010, two hip implants made by DePuy were withdrawn form circulation following safety concerns. Approximately 10,000 of these models fitted in patients since 2003 and hundreds of patients sued the company for compensation. All patients were advised to seek medical advice to check the levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood and whether they suffered any muscle damage.
Fresh concerns Up to 56,000 UK patients have been fitted with the controversial metal devices which have been linked to muscle and bone damage as well as problems with the nervous system. Patients are offered annual check-ups however at the end of June, the MHRA issued an alert to doctors to perform more thorough testing. This includes x-rays and ultrasound or MRI scans even if the implant had been fitted many years ago and the patient had not suffered from any ill effects.
At launch in the 1990s, these devices were hailed as revolutionary, however since 2016, 500 patients were suing DePuy after suffering severe complications. The main complications reported have been persistent pain, muscle damage and damage to nerves surrounding the hip. These complications are thought to arise when tiny particles of cobalt and chromium within the metal break off and leach into the blood.