Patients face extra surgeries over faulty implants
Published 04/07/2011 | 05:00
UP to 113 Irish patients have already endured two hip operations due to a worldwide recall of faulty joint implants, it has emerged.
And another eight, who were also fitted with the faulty DePuy orthopaedic hip joints, are scheduled to have operations in the coming weeks and months.
Patients faced an anxious wait last August when it was announced that 3,500 Irish people had been fitted with potentially faulty hips in public and private hospitals over the previous six years.
At that stage, 12 patients already had the artificial joints removed and new ones put in. But new figures show more have been diagnosed with problems since then, after undergoing assessments by a consultant.
DePuy Orthopaedics, part of Johnson & Johnson's joint replacement section, had to recall products used on 93,000 patients around the world.
One product replaces the ball part of the hip and the other product is used in the socket.
At the time of recall, the company said it received data showing that, after five years, 12pc of patients who were operated on for the implants needed to have them replaced again.
DePuy said it would cover all reasonable costs with the recall. These include assessments, surgery and other out-of-pocket expenses.
However, a number of solicitors' firms in Ireland and abroad are now involved with patients, which will lead to compensation claims being lodged.
Dr Thomas Joyce, a reader in biotribology at the school of mechanical and systems engineering in Newcastle University in England, told a meeting organised in Dublin by solicitors that he believed that 1,400 of the 3,500 who received the hip implants here would need surgery.
He said the normal life span of these appliances was 10 to 20 years depending on the patient.
The "metallic wear debris" that comes off the joints caused tissue damage and could affect the bone. Patients could be exposed patients to cobalt and chromium poisoning.
Long-term effects are uncertain but it is recommended that patients should be monitored for systemic effects, particularly cardiovascular, neurological, renal and thyroid symptoms.
Affected patients have reported symptoms such as pain, swelling, audible 'popping' and difficulty when walking.
DePuy said those at highest risk of needing a replacement were women and people fitted with smaller-sized implants.