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Few Patients Should Get Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants, FDA Panel Says
Date:6/29/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- A panel of U.S. government experts said Thursday that metal-on-metal hip implants have little use in most patients, with evidence mounting that the devices deteriorate sooner than other implants, shedding particles of metal into the surrounding joint and bloodstream.

The panel, convened by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, stopped short of advocating a ban on the devices, as some experts have done in Britain, the Associated Press reported.

The panel also recommended that patients who experience any pain or other symptoms should be evaluated with an X-ray and blood test for levels of metal. They also noted, however, that current tests still aren't accurate in measuring these levels.

Patients with metal-on-metal implants who are not having pain only require annual X-rays to track the condition of the device, the experts said.

While thousands of Americans have benefited from hip replacements over the years, problems with metal-on-metal implants can lead to troubles requiring surgery to replace defective devices.

Specifically, experts say, tiny fragments of metal can shear off from these artificial joints, causing chronic pain or infection and raising levels of metals in the bloodstream. Experts estimate that more than 500,000 Americans have received a metal-on-metal hip joint, mostly between 2003 and 2010.

Worry over the failure rate of the implants, and the speed at which they were initially approved for the U.S. market, led to the special two-day advisory panel session that began Wednesday.

Speaking earlier this week, FDA spokeswoman Michelle Bolek acknowledged that "data from recent studies and from FDA's own review show some patients experiencing complications, including the need for additional surgeries, which could be attributed to metal-on-metal hip implant devices."

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Few Patients Should Get Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants, FDA Panel Says
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