Wiganers in hip-poisoning scare

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FIFTY-two people in Wigan are known to have been fitted with hip replacements that could be poisoning them, hospital bosses revealed today.

Three of the 52 identified as receiving the implants – which can cause metal to leak into the bloodstream – have already had them replaced following new operations carried out at Wrightington Hospital.

Medical regulators are considering new evidence about all-metal implants disintegrating, destroying muscle tissue as well as leaking metal into the bloodstream. It comes as surgeons say that implants, which have now been recalled, have a failure rate of nearly 50% after six years.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) confirmed that three people have since had their metal hip implants, which were produced by the company DePuy, replaced.

A spokesman for WWL said: “We can confirm that when the original medical advice alert came out in August 2010, about issues with this particular type of hip replacement, the ASR hip replacement and resurfacing models, WWL immediately investigated the situation with regard to any of our patients potentially being affected.

“WWL staff rapidly identified 52 patients with DePuy ASR replacements, and these patients were immediately placed on active review and long-term follow up schedules. We have received several telephone calls and emails from worried patients who have had a hip replacement, and would like to reassure all our patients that anyone who has undergone this type of replacement has been contacted in 2010. However, if any patients are unsure of the type of implant they have, or require any further information or support and advice, please contact Arthroplasty Practitioner Service Helpline.”

Hip replacements, and less drastic hip resurfacing, usually offer a patient a 95 per cent chance of pain-free mobility for 10 to 15 years.

But problems can occur with all-metal implants – used on 40,000 patients – when friction between the components causes tiny metal fragments to break off.

In 2010, two hip implants made by DePuy were withdrawn from the market after concerns about their safety.

These accounted for around 10,000 of the metal-on-metal hips fitted in the UK since 2003. It is unclear if all patients are aware of the risks. The British Orthopaedic Association suggested in a letter to surgeons that only 41 per cent had applied to be reimbursed for their treatment by DePuy.

For more information contact Arthroplasty Practitioner Service Helpline 01257 256372.