Originally touted as a better alternative to plastic implants, metal-on-metal hip implants have been found to carry some unique risks that arguably make them more dangerous for vulnerable patients. A recall was even issued in 2010 in response to a large number of patients having to undergo surgery to fix defective implants. The scandal led to thousands of lawsuits being filed, some of which are still ongoing. Aside from faulty devices, all-metal hip implants have also been found to have a much shorter lifespan than other forms of hip implants, according to the Arthritis Foundation. They can sometimes need replacing after five years, rather than lasting 10-15 years like most other forms of the implant do.
There’s also evidence that additional bone and tissue damage can occur over time, leading to inflammation and decreased mobility. Metal particles from the device also wear out, and in some cases, they can enter the bloodstream. The Arthritis Foundation claims that these metal particles have been linked to heart disease, neurological decline, and even cancer. Even if patients aren’t affected by any of these issues, the shorter lifespan of the implant means that there’s a higher chance that they’ll have to undergo a second surgery to replace it again. This second operation is reportedly less successful, as bone loss from the damage caused by the original implant makes it harder to anchor a new one in place. Overall, a failure from what should have been an innovative MedTech solution.