Metal-on-metal hip replacements were introduced in the 1990s but reached the peak of their popularity in the past decade.
Over 11,000 a year had been implanted by 2008, with the traditional varieties using a metal ball in a plastic socket.
However, the problems associated with metal-on-metal hip implants are only just beginning to make the headlines.
Martyn Porter, past president of the British Orthopaedic Association, said: “It first started to become apparent among surgeons about three years ago.
“We were starting to see high revision rates but this is like watching a car crash in slow motion — at first, you just don’t know how bad it is going to be.”
However, the “disappointing” scale of the problem is becoming clearer by the day, with thousands of men and women given replacements suffering the painful and sometimes devastating side effects of metal-on-metal hip implants.
Mr Porter added: “These devices, which were supposed to be innovative, had such poor results.”
High failure rates
After the manufacturers of one device, the DePuy ASR, admitted to failure rates of 13% within five years, the product was withdrawn. Revision surgery was required in almost a quarter of cases within the five year period.
After nine years failure rates soar to an estimated 43%, according to research by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
Failure rates hit 14% after five years when a similar model was introduced for hip resurfacing procedures, and soared to 36% after nine years.
Six metal-on-metal models and a ceramic-on-metal model implanted in more than 11,000 resurfacing patients had five-year failure rates of 5% or worse.
The metal-on-metal resurfacing models found to have high failure rates include: the Adept; Cormet 2000; Durom; Recap Magnum; and Conserve Plus.
The Corail/Pinnacle full hip replacement using ceramic on metal also failed to meet the standard.
Nice have called for the NHS to stop using any hip implant with a failure rate higher than 5% at five years, leaving just two types of metal-on-metal device in current use that fall within the proposed national standard.
Stephen Cannon, an honorary consultant surgeon for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, commented: “The figures speak for themselves – even the best metal-on-metals have four times the failure rate of the rest. This is a really significant problem because these were given to an awful lot of people.”
If you believe you have been given a defective metal on metal hip implant, Lampkin & Co Solicitors can pursue a compensation claim on your behalf.