More than 50,000 patients with ‘metal-on-metal’ hips are being told to undergo X-rays and blood tests after watchdogs found they are far more toxic than was thought.
Every person fitted with the devices is being advised to have checks, in a safety alert issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The new advice means 56,000 patients being asked to undergo a series of medical tests to establish whether they are suffering muscle or bone damage, or metal toxicity.
The unprecedented decision could result in thousands of people undergoing revision surgery to replace the implants.
Watchdogs said the alert had been issued because of growing evidence that muscle damage caused by the implants can become progressively worse, and even irreversable, without patients suffering symptoms.
Surgeons are particularly concerned about consequences for female patients, who will be told to undergo annual checks even if no concerns are detected.
Neil McGuire, MHRA’s clinical director of medical devices, said: “Although the majority of patients with these metal-on- metal devices have well-functioning hips, it is known some may develop soft tissue reactions related to their implant.
“The clinical advice we have received indicates patients will likely have the best outcomes if these problems are detected early, monitored and treated if necessary.”
The recent decision was taken after tracking thousands of cases and surgeons found the devices are still causing soft tissue reactions many years after they were implanted. It means that patients will be asked to undergo a series of checks even if they are currently suffering from no symptoms at all.
All women who have the implants will need to have annual checks for the rest of their lives under the guidance, even if they are currently suffering no problems.
Studies have found that women were particularly likely to need revision surgery, with suggestions that the smaller components used in surgery leaves less margin for error.
Men suffering symptoms that could denote muscle damage will undergo annual checks, while those with no symptoms will have tests at least every three years.
Source: The Daily Telegraph