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BMJ focuses on problems of hip resurfacing and metal on metal hip replacements

British Medical Journal publishes review of research into safety of hip implants and resurfacing

Photo of hip: istock

21 December 2011

Last week’s edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a systematic review of research into the safety and effectiveness of hip implants.  In the same week Leigh Day product liability client Penny Brown, a former gymnast, talked to the Daily Mail about the agony she has experienced since her hip was resurfaced.  Penny has joined a large group of claimants represented by defective products claims lawyers at Leigh Day who have begun legal action against the makers of a hip implant system, DePuy International Ltd, a part of Johnson & Johnson.  Articular Surface Replacement, or ASR, were only recalled in August 2010 despite growing evidence from at least 2006 that they were failing, requiring patients to have revision surgery, which unfortunately may be unable to rectify the full extent of the damage caused by the implant.

Penny is currently recovering from major surgery to have the faulty implant removed, she has been unable to work for a year after her hip bone broke during the operation.

DePuy ASR hip devices

The BMJ reports that the regulation and approval of new medical devices falls far short of that for new drugs, posing serious risks to patients.  The ‘metal on metal’ hip replacement has caused particular problems.  In these devices both parts are made of hardened alloy but the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority has issued an alert about severe cases of metallosis related to the release of ions from these implants, and recommended that patients should be followed up at least annually.  A few months later Johnson & Johnson recalled more than 93,000 metal on metal hip resurfacing devices.  Leigh Day is currently representing hundreds of UK clients whose health has been affected by a DePuy ASR hip implant in a
group claim for compensation.

Leigh Day partner Bozena Michalowska is leading the group action against DePuy International Ltd. If you or a member of your family has been affected by a DePuy ASR hip implant please call or email Bozena Michalowska on 020 7650 1311 to discuss your personal situation.

Other hip replacement devices

Concern about the use of metal on metal hip implants, rather than the more traditional ceramic or polyethylene implants, has been growing for some time.  In its 2011 report, the National Joint Registry for England and Wales identified much higher revision rates in the non-traditional hip implants.  The report published in last week’s BMJ confirms that metal on metal bearings seemed linked with a substantially higher occurrence of revision surgery – with its associated pain, inconvenience and distress. Revision surgery can be an arduous and painful experience for patients who have already been through surgery, and it may be possible to bring a claim for compensation if you are in this position.

The British Hip Society (BHS) published a paper on the subject of large diameter metal on metal bearing total hip replacements earlier this year. The BHS presented results which showed a higher than anticipated early failure rate. These range from 21% revision rate at four years (potentially rising to 35% if all currently known painful implants progress to revision) to 49% at 6 years for the ASR XL device. Other devices have a revision or impending revision rate of 12 – 15 % at 5 years.

A number of companies manufacture metal on metal hip replacement devices.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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Who to contact

For claims relating to DePuy ASR hip implants please contact Boz Michalowska on 020 7650 1311