A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that metal-on-metal hip implants, like the DePuy Orthopaedics “ASR” model, are no more effective than traditional implants, yet they carry a far greater risk of failure.  The November 29, 2011 report showed that metal-on-metal implants carried double the risk that the implant would have to be replaced in a second surgical procedure.  The study, titled “Comparative assessment of implantable hip devices with different bearing surfaces: systematic appraisal of evidence,” analyzed more than 3,000 patients and also used data from more than 830,000 surgeries.

The study found no difference in the post-surgery functionality of the metal-on-metal recipients, when compared to patients who received ceramic  or plastic hip implants.  But the incidence of joint pain, swelling, joint dislocation, and systemic toxicity from metal ions was much higher in the metal implant group.  Dr. Art Sedrakyan of the Weill Cornell Medical College, who led the study, suggested that patients who are about to receive a metal-on-metal hip implant should ask their doctor for a full explanation of why this type of implant is needed.  From the data in this study, it does not appear that products like the DePuy ASR Hip Replacement System are living up to their marketing hype, which suggested the metal implants would be more durable and more trouble-free.  Dr. Sedrakyn expects the results of this study to be applicable to hip implant treatments worldwide.

Metal-on-metal hip implants first came under intense scrutiny when Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit recalled its metal ASR hip system, due to excessive reports of failures.  Metal hip implants are also manufactured by Zimmer, Wright Medical, Biomet, and Smith & Nephew.  The market for these implants is already huge, with 270,000 hip replacements performed each year in the US alone.  That number is expected to increase as the baby-boomer generation continues to age.  If you have experienced a problem with a metal-on-metal hip implant, especially the DePuy ASR model, please submit a case evaluation form to our defective hip implant lawyers right away.