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Hip Implants – A Metal Problem

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The obvious symptoms of a failing hip replacement are well-known and documented. If you are experiencing unusual hip pain or swelling accompanied by reduced mobility, there is a chance that your hip implant is about to fail.

One cause of these symptoms – elevated levels of heavy metals such as chromium and cobalt in the bloodstream – is not so obvious, at least in the beginning. This is the reason that U.S. Drug Watchdog has released a press release urging everyone who has received a metal-on-metal hip device between 2002 and 2010 (possibly 140,000 people in the U.S. alone) to get a blood test in order to determine of they have elevated levels of these substances in their blood.

There is however another test that may be more effective in detecting problems related to these heavy metals earlier – before pain and complications set in. That is magnetic resonance imaging, better known as MRI. According to Dr. Hollis Potter, who contributed to the study that was recently published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, early detection of these heavy metal problems in a patient’s can help mitigate tissue damage before it becomes severe enough to cause serious complications and make any necessary revision surgery more difficult.

The study followed nearly 70 patients who had been experiencing failure with their hip devices, and demonstrated the value of the MRI when it came to preventing serious injuries. If you have a suspect metal on metal hip implant, It is important to be tested even if you are not currently experiencing symptoms – which, according to Dr. Potter, is fairly common.

Sources

N/A. “US Drug Watchdog Now Urges All DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Recipients To Call Them For The Name Of Specific Blood Test That Will Determine If This Metal Implant Has Failed” (press release). Via PRWeb, 3 July 2013.

Nawabi, Danyal et. al. “Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Symptomatic Versus Asymptomatic Subjects Following Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing Arthroplasty.” The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, vol. 95 no. 10 (15 May 2013).