DePuy Orthopaedics announced last week that it was to recall an artificial hip that had previously been used by several hospitals throughout Ireland.
The Irish Medicines Board has confirmed that following a medical device alert issued by a regulatory body in the UK in April of this year about so-called metal-on-metal devices, which include the DePuy ASR system, it circulated this warning to orthopaedic surgeons in Ireland.
The HSE has further confirmed that hospitals have been advised that the ASR hip manufactured by DePuy should not be used in any hip replacement surgeries with immediate effect. Patients who have been implanted with the affected devices will be contacted in the coming weeks for review.
The hip was being used in Irish orthopaedic procedures despite the fact that many of the country’s orthopaedic surgeons had expressed concern about them for some time.
These metal-on-metal devices were the subject of controversy in Australia over two years ago when data obtained from a joint register signaled recurring problems. While there is no such joint registry system in this country, the DePuy device had nonetheless fallen out of favour with several Irish surgeons some time ago.
The DePuy replacement implants were usually used in the case of younger patients, with around 3,500 having received them in Ireland according to HSE figures.
13 per cent of patients in Britain who received DePuy implants had to undergo a revision surgery within five years of their initial operation. This is dramatically greater than the typical rate of revision surgery associated with hip replacements.
While it is not yet fully clear what is causing the difficulties with these devices, medical professionals are coming around to the view that there is reaction to the particles that are released from the metal components rubbing off one another. This causes inflammation in the affected area which can be intensely painful. The international experience in this area would suggest that when metal particles are the cause of complications for hip replacement patients, the procedures to replace the devices can be extremely complex and can leave some patients with lasting complications.
The hip replacement patients who are affected by the recall will be contacted by the HSE in the next number of weeks and will be likely to have to undergo blood tests, MRI scans and ultrasounds to determine if they require further surgery.
Information on the recall can be obtained on the HSE’s website at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/newscentre/HIP.html or by telephoning their infoline on 1850 24 1850, with lines being open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday to Saturday.