New York Times: Artificial Hips Failing at an Alarming Rate
There is a troubling New York Times article this morning on how metal on metal hip replacement prostheses are causing patients to get sick and are wearing out only after a few years. What’s also concerning is the staggering health care costs associated with caring for these sick patients and taking out their failed hip replacement parts for a second joint replacement. The article describes how we will all bear these high costs in one way or another. I’ve blogged before on metal on metal hip replacement surgeries, the most prominent example of which is “hip resurfacing“. These hip resurfacing problems include the production of wear particles that not only irritate the surrounding tissue, but also get into the bloodstream, exposing the patient to a variety of systemic illnesses. The article highlights a gentleman who has more than $400,000 in medical expenses related to the removal of a metal hip and for the past 5 months has been left completely without a joint and is bedridden. Extrapolating from the number of patients in Europe who have needed their metal joints surgically removed and replaced, as many as tens of thousands of patients in the U.S. will need to have their metal hips prematurely removed. The companies that make these metal on metal joints are facing massive lawsuits that will likely break all records for medical device liability claims. The upshot? Don’t fall for “hip resurfacing” claims. The procedure is billed as “minimally invasive” when in fact it’s really just a mini hip replacement surgery using a prostheses that is metal on metal. In addition, the metal prostheses used will likely lead to wear particles which can make some patients very sick. We also don’t know the long-term consequences of metal ions in the blood stream, but I’d wager that it’s not a good thing.