In a recent development, a probe by the BBC news network and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) revealed that hundreds of thousands of people who have received metal-on-metal hip replacements may have knowingly been given the devices in spite of known complications. The subsequent risk comes from the friction created by the metal joints that create minute metal shavings that have the potential to leach into the surrounding tissue and cause adverse health reactions. Accordingly, DePuy Orthopaedics is being blamed for the distribution of their ASR hip devices, even after reports suggested that they were aware of the potential risks.
ASR devices developed by DePuy consist of metal components, as to promote longevity and durability. Unfortunately, the devices utilize cobalt and chromium, metals that may exhibit a propensity to cause adverse reactions in those who receive them. Accordingly, the friction created by metal-on-metal hip replacements may cause the components to wear and diminish over a period of time. The deterioration generates tiny metal shavings that have the potential to cause significant damage to the soft-tissue surrounding the surgically implanted hip replacement system. If neglected, these metal pieces may lead to the gathering of fluid in the joint and surrounding muscles that can cause severe cobalt toxicity.
While cobalt is a metallic compound necessary to the proper functioning of the human body, excessive concentrations of the metal may prove to be extremely dangerous or even fatal. In the event that metal shavings accumulate within the joints, recipients of hip implants may significantly increase their risk of a number of complications. Extreme cobalt toxicity has been linked to a number of adverse side effects. The following is a list of side effects associated with cobalt toxicity:
- Neurological damage
- Impaired senses
- Liver damage
- Future hip revision surgeries
Unfortunately, DePuy has been accused of promoting these products, even after knowing of their propensity for endangerment. According to a recent probe, consisting of officials from the BMJ and BBC news program, “DePuy’s marketing of metal-on-metal hips continued unabated, with promotional material failing to reflect internal company concerns.”
“Despite the fact that these risks have been known and well documented for decades, patients have been kept in the dark about their participation in what has effectively been a large uncontrolled experiment,” said BMJ investigations editor Deborah Cohen. “This isn’t the unlucky failure to spot the misdemeanours of one rogue company or the occasional unforeseen breakdown of a small number of devices. It is the inability to prevent a whole class of failing hip implant from being used in hundreds of thousands of people globally.”