Make sure you know which type of hip fix you have
21:45 GMT, 17 March 2012
For the millions who have a hip implant, the news last week that experts are now calling for certain types to be banned is extremely worrying.
Data on more than 400,000 hip replacements found so-called metal-on-metal prostheses needed revising more often than other types, and that the failure rates for women were four times that of other types.
There is also concern that some may cause long-term health problems, which has led to a change in the recommended aftercare for many. Here is my advice to patients affected:
The news that some hip replacements could be banned is very worrying. Make sure you know what exactly you've had done
I had a hip replacement four years ago but I feel fine. Should I be worried
The problems concern only metal-on-metal replacements (other types are metal with plastic or ceramic).Your GP can check the records to see which type you had. If it is the damaging type, you will be referred for a follow-up.
What’s the problem with the metal-on-metal replacements
There are two main concerns. Studies have shown that this type of replacement is not as good as its counterparts, so fails much earlier. That means pain recurs and movement is hindered as the joint becomes worn. Seven years after an all-metal hip replacement, 12 per cent will have failed, which is three times more than the other types. The second concern is that as the joints wear down, tiny fragments of metal wear off into the bloodstream which locally causes damage to the tissues. This could make future replacement more difficult.
What should I do if I have a metal-on-metal replacement
Patients who have had all-metal replacements will now be tested annually in an orthopaedic clinic. Checks will be carried out to see if there are signs of metal in the bloodstream. If there are, an MRI will be taken to see if the hip is damaged.
I would like my hip-replacement removed for peace of mind. Is that possible
This would not be sanctioned on the NHS. If your blood tests are normal, and you have no pain, removal would be an unnecessary operation which is not risk-free.