Need A New Hip? Avoid Metal On Metal

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 11:11am

New study confirming high failure rates has many surgeons opting for more modern hip replacements.

Hip replacement surgeries have helped thousands resume an active lifestyle, but new research shows their energy levels are likely to outlast their brand new, artificial hips if they're metal-on-metal implants.

"I would not have a metal-on-metal hip replacement if I was going to have to have a hip replacement myself," says Dr. David Mauerhan, an orthopedic surgeon with Carolinas Healthcare System.

He and many of his colleagues around the country have stopped using the all-metal hip implants because they're more likely to wear out in as few as five years.

In some cases, tiny metal fragments can slough off.

"That can lead to loosening of the implant, destruction of soft tissues around the hip replacement and pain and decreasing function on the part of the patient," Dr. Mauerhan explains.

A new analysis of more than 400,000 hip replacements confirms the metal-on-metal variety is failing at much higher rates than other types, like ceramic and polyethylene, especially in women.

The study authors even suggest a ban.

Still, an estimated 500,000 people in the U.S. have all-metal artificial hips.

Experts say those patients should get their hips checked every year.

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