The recalled Stryker hip replacement devices are metal-on-metal (MoM) medical devices.
MoM technology is only about ten years old. Metal-on-metal implants became a popular alternative to other hip implants because they were believed to be superior to earlier versions of the artificial joints. These devices replace the bone “ball-and-socket” found in a natural hip with parts made of metals such as cobalt and chromium.
Metal-on-metal implants account for roughly one third of the 250,000 hip replacements performed in the United States each year. But many orthopedic surgeons are hesitant to continue using them because of the risk of tissue and bone damage they can cause.
Recipients of MoM devices specifically are injured when the units begin to deteriorate prematurely. As they do, they can release flecks of toxic metal debris into the recipient’s bloodstream, which may lead to painful swelling and tumors. Some devices even come loose and fail completely. When this happens, the bone around the implant can fracture.
Only by receiving a complete medical diagnosis can you be sure that you are not in danger. This might include returning for an annual evaluation to make sure any MoM device you’ve had implanted continues to function safely. During your initial doctor’s visit, you can expect to have a blood test to measure the level of microscopic metal pieces surrounding your hip. If you have elevated metal particle levels, this could be an indication that your MoM hip is failing.