Metal Hip Replacement Genetic Instability: Round 2…

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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metal hip replacement genetic instability

I recently blogged on an earth shattering study that demonstrated that different types of metal wear particles from hip or knee replacement devices lead to chromosomal aberrations. Now I’ve found another similar study from 2003 that found a more serious problem, genomic instability! What’s that and why should you be very concerned?

Genetic or genomic instability is when there is a high frequency of gene mutations. As you know, your genes are the blueprints for how your cells work and how to build new cells. So genomic instability is like trying to build a complex skyscraper with a set of plans that keeps changing – the end result will not work. Genomic instability can cause cancer and is also a factor in several neurodegenerative diseases.

This study used cells taken from patients who have undergone total hip replacements which were followed in culture. It found that titanium wear articles from metal and polyethylene prostheses (a very common type of hip and knee replacement device), created chromosomal instability, reproductive failure and gene damage in the cells for many generations. The damage was similar to what one would expect from cadmium poisoning or radiation exposure!

What does all of this mean? The particular area of DNA findings in the study were in the primary fibroblasts which are the cells responsible for collagen production and creating structure in human connective tissue, so translation, the cells needed in joints (i.e. the joint capsule and ligaments)!  Obviously DNA damage which is passed down to other cells and so on, and so on, and so on, is likely not to be a good thing for the stability of the joint, the success of the implant or the overall health of the patient.

The upshot? We’ve published many blogs on the unacceptable overuse of joint replacement and it’s risks and complications , including tumors, when much better options exist.  This study has been cited in many studies referencing one line from the study…”Metal wear debris may also cause Genomic Instability”  Is there a link between Metal Hip Replacement Genetic Instability and the many complications of joint replacement like chronic pain, blood clots, prosthesis failure, infection, etc?  Additional study is needed to answer those questions, but when chromosomal mutations which preclude cell repair are created, you need to ask yourself, has the situation actually been improved by subjecting the patient to the trauma, complications and risks of joint replacement?

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Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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