Metal-on-metal hipsOrthopedic device companies touted metal-on-metal hip implants as stronger than other types of implants after they first introduced them in the late 1990s. But the implants came under fire after the high-profile August 2010 recall of DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR XL acetabular and ASR hip resurfacing systems. Parent company Johnson & Johnson pulled the implants after receiving reports that a higher-than-normal number of patients required surgeries to correct or remove defective implants.
As of the end of last year, J&J still faced lawsuits from 10,500 plaintiffs with direct claims related to the Pinnacle acetabular cup system, as well as 1,800 directly affected by the DePuy ASR XL acetabular system and DePuy ASR hip resurfacing system, according to J&J’s most recent annual report.
In 2013, the U.K.’s National Institute for Health & Care Excellence found failure rates as high as 43% for some metal-on-metal implants. Worse, reports have warned of hundreds of thousands of patients potentially exposed to toxic compounds from the implants, putting them at risk of developing cancer, cardiomyopathy, muscle and bone destruction and changes to their DNA. One study found that metal ions that were released from the cobalt-chromium-molybdenum metal devices when they rubbed together would penetrate bone marrow and impede bone-growing cells from forming.