More Bad News for DePuy All-Metal Hip Replacements – British Registry Reports Increased Failure Rates

A recent report by the National Joint Registry for England and Wales brings more bad news for patients who have received DePuy metal-on-metal hip replacements. According to the report, the DePuy metal-on-metal device has failed in over one-third of the British patients who’d received it. While the study does not reflect the failure rates for U.S. patients, it does report on data that we do not collect in the U.S. and therefore can be a useful indicator of potential failure rates in the U.S.

Metal-on-metal artificial hips were designed to last longer than their plastic counterparts, yet the medical advances in this case might have done more harm than good. The British report clearly shows that these all metal hip devices are failing at a much faster rate than artificial hips composed of alternate materials, including a combination of metal and plastic. And while the British report is not the first of its kind, its findings collaborates earlier studies which demonstrated that all metal hips are not as durable as the other options.

The main theory on why the metal-on-metal hip devices fail at a faster rate centers on the fact that every component is made of metal. While it would seem that metal would be more durable than plastic, in reality the all metal construction has led to other unexpected problems. As the metal hip socket rubs against the metal hip joint, the movement seems to release tiny particles of the various metals. This debris is released into the surrounding hip cavity and not only causes crippling injuries to the person, but also diminishes the effectiveness of the metal artificial hip. Therefore, it is the design defect of the all metal construction that is leading to the increased failure rate of metal-on-metal hip devices.

Artificial hips made out of a combination of metal and plastic materials have been shown to last for 15 years or more. However, according to the British report, over 29% of people who received the metal-on-metal hip devices within the last six years needed to have it replaced. While many of these replacements involve the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) device manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy division, as a whole metal-on-metal hips have been shown to fail faster than alternative options.

DePuy recalled its ASR devices in 2010, about the same time that the British registry released its report last year. U.S. patients were the largest consumers of the ASR implants, receiving about 40,000 of the 90,000 devices sold worldwide. And while the 2011 British registry includes a much smaller population of ASR hip implants, its 2,100 patients seem to follow the trends seen worldwide and in the U.S. Metal-on-metal hip replacement devices tend to fail faster than their plastic and metal counterparts and lead to additional hip device complications. The ASR recall and the widespread medical complications arising out of the DePuy all-metal hip implant device have led to an influx of product liability claims against DePuy.


Barry Meier. Metal Hips Failing Fast, Report Says. The New York Times. September 15, 2011.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical design defect lawsuits for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Crestwood, Blue Island, Lombard, Waukegan, Lincolnwood, and Vernon Hills.
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