The DePuy ASR hip implant recall scandal – loosening problems

The DePuy ASR hip replacements have failed at an unacceptably high rate. Much of this is down to loosening of the metal on metal hip implants, but how does this happen?

In order to make a stable hip replacement, surgeons must press or cement the all metal implant securely in place, creating strong attachments to both the femur and the pelvic bone. The ASR joint worked by attaching a metal cup to the pelvic bone which in turn kept the rest of the joint stable.

DePuy has since recalled 93,000 of the ASR devices due to high failure rates. One of the most common causes of failure was loosening and/or detachment of the cup from the pelvis. Many patients who have received the devices are finding that their hip bones do not grow and affix to the cup component meaning that the device fails.

Another contributing factor to the loosening of the devices is the tendency fragments of metal to fleck off into the tissue around the hip. As the metal part of the mechanism knock against each other, metal particles break off causing inflammation, infection and metallosis which weakens the tissues around the joint.

Whilst replacement hips inevitably wear down and become looser with time, ASR devices have been failing at an unprecedented rate within just 5 years of implantation. Indeed, in many cases, it only takes 2 years for the implants to fail.

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