Fresh concerns for ‘metal-on-metal’ hip implant patients

Thousands of patients with “metal on metal” artificial hips are likely to face further X-rays and blood tests after fresh concerns were raised about their safety.

The Health Service Executive has sent a safety alert issued last month by UK regulators to all hospitals in the State, including private hospitals.

The alert says patients in the UK should undergo medical tests to establish whether they are suffering muscle or bone damage, and metal toxicity.

The British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency says patients who have metal-on-metal hips need to be regularly reviewed as some may develop soft tissue reactions related to their implant.

Tests will be carried out to ascertain whether patients are suffering muscle or bone damage, and metal toxicity. Some could need revision surgery.

8,000 Irish patients

About 8,000 patients in Ireland have been fitted with the metal-on-metal devices, which were introduced in the 1990s. They were promoted among younger patients with a more active lifestyle as offering better mobility than hips using a metal ball and plastic socket.

Many of these patients were fitted with ASR devices made by the manufacturer DePuy and have already been reviewed after a recall in 2010.

“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,” Dr Neil McGuire, MRHA clinical director of medical devices, said.

“The clinical advice we have received indicates patients will likely have the best outcomes if these problems are detected early, monitored and treated if necessary.”

In Ireland, the Health Products Regulatory Authority says it is aware of, and currently reviewing, the UK guidance.

A spokeswoman said it would continue to liaise with all relevant stakeholders.

© The Irish Times

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