The European Commission recently released a fact sheet detailing the advantages, disadvantages and potential health risks for patients who opt for metal-on-metal hip implants.
In the fact sheet, the European Commission’s (EC’s) Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) summarized its standings on “The safety of metal-on-metal (MoM) joint replacements with a particular focus on hip implants.”
According to committee, metal-on-metal joint implants may help solve a number of dysfunctions related to the hip; however, they can also result in debris migrating from the implant into the surrounding tissue or blood.
The metal pieces of the implant can rub against each other and release metal ions over time, which can build up around the implant.
The EC noted most patients who have MoM implants will have no adverse effects, but some can experience symptoms around the hip, such as swelling.
Metal parts are long-lasting and are often used in younger patients to save them from having to undergo revision operations later to replace less-durable plastic parts, according to the SCENIHR fact sheet. The components tend to be larger, which makes them more durable and less of a threat for dislocation.
Members of SCENIHR stated that large-head (large diameter) metal-on-metal hip implants, in particular, pose the highest risk of provoking undesirable reactions in patients. Because of the potential adverse health risks presented by using the implants, the decision to use them should be made on a case-by-case in which the surgeon weighs the pros and cons, considering relevant factors such as age, gender, body size, physical fitness and lifestyle.
The implants should always be avoided by at-risk individuals, such as females of child-bearing age, small-boned females and patients who are allergic to the relevant metals, the fact sheet stated.
Reference: ec.europa.eu /health/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_mom_en.pdf.