Published September 15, 2011: “In a troubling development for people with all-metal artificial hips, a registry that tracks orthopedic implants in Britain reported on Thursday that the failure rate of the devices was increasing. The National Joint Registry for England and Wales said that an all-metal artificial hip once sold by Johnson & Johnson had failed in an estimated one-third of the patients who had been followed for the longest time. The device was recalled by the company last year. The British registry also found that the early failure rate of some other “metal-on-metal” hips — ones in which both the ball and the socket components of an artificial joint are made of metal — was significantly higher than for those made from other materials, including a combination of metal and plastic. While the patients tracked by the British registry are not in the United States, doctors and patients here pay close attention to the registry’s findings because no such body exists in this country, where there is far greater use of artificial hips and knees. Australia also keeps a registry. There was already heightened concern in the United States about the all-metal hips. In the first six months of this year, the Food and Drug Administration received more reports about problems with the all-metal hips than it had in the previous four years combined, according to an analysis by The New York Times. In May, the F.D.A. took the unusual step of ordering producers of the devices to study how frequently they were failing and to examine the health implications for patients.”
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