In many ways, the rise and fall of metal-on-metal hips have been like an uncontrolled experiment. Manufacturers performed minimal testing on the devices prior to releasing them into the marketplace. As metal-on-metal hips began to fail in patients, manufacturers took measures to delay – or avoid altogether – any acknowledgment that there was a problem with the metal-on-metal design. Doctors had little information to rely on and were forced to put the pieces together based on their experiences with patients. As a result, patients and doctors alike have been waiting for answers to their questions regarding the effects of metal-on-metal hip implants.
A recent information statement released by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) helps answer some of those questions and provides up-to-date recommendations on how to monitor these devices. The document is not intended to dictate the exact method of treatment, but it serves as a guideline that is based on the state of the published literature available.
In it, the authors discuss the intrinsic (caused by the implant) and extrinsic (something outside of the implant) causes of painful total hip arthroplasty (THA). In any case of painful THA, a thorough clinical history, a detailed physical examination, and select radiographic and laboratory tests are all essential to determining the cause(s) of pain.
The statement also provides a systemic risk stratification recommendation, which can be used to determine if a certain patient is at high-, medium-, or low risk for hip failure. The data is consistent with some other studies in the past, which have reported trends such as a higher risk for females with metal-on-metal devices that have large-diameter femoral heads. However, this statement goes into more detail on what doctors should look for in determining a patient’s risk level and treatment options.
Having a metal-on-metal device in you can cause significant anxiety. At GoldenbergLaw, we understand that the most important thing to anyone who has been affected by metal-on-metal hip failure is feeling better and getting back to normal life. We will continue to update our clients and others about important developments in litigation and in the treatment of metal-on-metal hip failures.