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Advice issued over hip replacement concerns

30 January 2012 - 4:51pm

People with metal-on-metal hip implants who experience discomfort or have concerns are being advised to seek medical advice after recent press reports highlighted potential health risks.

The Telegraph reported on 28 January that up to 30,000 patients in the UK could be affected if this type of hip replacement starts to disintegrate in the body.

Research by the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) last year found some hip replacement devices, which were withdrawn last year, have failure rates of up to 50 per cent within six years.

Problems with the devices can occur when friction between the metal ball cup causes miniscule filings to break off and enter the blood, causing some patients to develop progressive soft tissue reactions.

Advice for clinicians

Carolyn Naisby, chair of the Association of Orthopaedic Physiotherapists, said: ‘Any physiotherapist in contact with a post-operation hip replacement patient with a painful hip should advise them to go back to their surgeon for further investigations. There could be other reasons why a hip becomes painful.’

She added that hip replacement patients should be encouraged to supply information about their procedure to the National Joint Registry (NJR), where she is the physiotherapy representative.

The NGR database is used in identifying problems with devices. ‘It is also a useful research source for physiotherapists,’ Ms Naisby said.

‘We are continuing to monitor all evidence. If patients have any questions they should speak to their orthopaedic surgeon.’

CSP professional advisor Ralph Hammond echoed this advice: ‘The CSP encourages members who come across hip-replacement patients anxious about the nature of their operation to undertake their usual full assessment.'

‘They should take heed of the NICE 2002 guidance on metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and refer patients for further medical investigation if deemed necessary,’ Mr Hammond said.

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