Fears for patients with ‘metal-on-metal’ hip implants

Posted July 5th 2017

An alert issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means that thousands of people could be at risk of damage from ‘metal-on-metal’ hip implants which have raised concerns over their levels of toxicity.

The implants are thought to have been used on approximately 56,000 people in the UK and will be recalled for testing amidst fears that they could cause bone or muscle damage if any metal particles have detached and settled into the surrounding tissue. If this is the case, then further surgery could be required. Although patients with smaller size implants have not been considered high risk in the past this view has now changed to consider all patients with this type of implant at potential risk.

Dr Neil McGuire, clinical director of medical devices for the MHRA, said, ‘We’ve now included a group of people who were at low risk, but were not at no risk. It’s more about catching people who could be developing these complications early.’

Whilst the MHRA has stated that it does not anticipate an increase in the number of revision surgeries that will need to be performed, thousands of extra patients will now need to undergo testing to rule them out. McGuire also stated that ‘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. 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’.