DePuy patients will need annual blood checks for metal ions for the rest of their lives following an investigation by the British Medical Journal and BBC Newsnight in recent days. The report outlines that metal on metal hip implant patients will need annual blood tests due to the issue of metal particles dislodging from the implant. The MHRA has since issued new guidance. Speaking about the current levels of metal debris in patients’ bloodstream Tony Nargol, Consultant Surgeon at the University Hospital of North Tees, told Newsnight and the BMJ “we are seeing patients with 10, 20, 50 times normal levels. I think our highest level is nearly 300”.
A number of metal on metal hip implants have a high failure rate and metal particles can break off and seep into tissue. Metal ions from implants reacting with local tissue have been a known problem since 1975. John Lynch, Principal at Lynch Solicitors, Tipperary, said; “It now seems that critical information was withheld from patients with metal on metal implants – by the manufacturers. We have DePuy clients whose lives have been seriously affected, and only now are we learning that a high failure rate and the issue of metal particles is not a new phenomenon. To be told that they now need yearly blood checks for life is even more unnerving, particularly as even though the recall was in August 2010 there are still new problems surfacing. The revelations from the investigation show that patients need to cater for their future pain and suffering by seeking compensation and the time to do so may end on 26th August 2012. Precautionary action needs to be taken before that date to avoid the possibility of having your case out of time.”
Dr. Thomas Joyce, Reader in Biotribology, School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, Newcastle University said; “The Newsnight/BMJ investigation shows that the systems apparently in place to protect the public have failed to do so. Changes need to be made so that this disaster in orthopaedics cannot re-occur”.
Cathriona Molloy, Patient Advocacy Coordinator at Patient Focus, said; “We in Patient Focus would be urging patients to make sure they attend their annual review appointments or if they have any worries or concerns in the interim they should contact their treating consultant. If they are not happy with their current treating consultant they are also entitled to look for a second opinion. If they need any support they can contact Patient Focus.”
Concern about metal on metal hips had been intensified over the last number of months as suspicions emerged about the viability of another DePuy device, the Pinnacle.
The BMJ and Newsnight investigation also found that DePuy altered the design of the Pinnacle, which experts warn will lead to the release of high levels of toxic metals into the body. Despite contrary indicators of benefits of this device, the Pinnacle is still on the market.