6 December 2011
A major study confirms metal-on-metal hip joints are more prone to needing revision (early replacement) and offer no advantage over conventional materials.
The study, co-authored by Australia's joint replacement registry director Professor Stephen Graves, analysed data on more than 830,000 operations recorded in registries globally and covering 3000 patients in 18 studies (BMJ 2011; online 29 Nov).
It follows withdrawal of the faulty DePuy hip joint device, a type of metal on metal artificial hip joint.
Traditional hip implants consist of a metal ball that fits into a polyethylene (plastic) socket. These implants are usually successful but eventually wear out. In an effort to create longer lasting devices, metal ball and socket (metal on metal) and ceramic ball and socket (ceramic on ceramic) implants have been developed.
"Disease-specific functional outcomes and general quality of life scores were no different or they favoured patients receiving metal-on-polyethylene rather than metal-on-metal in the trials," the authors said.
"In the 3 largest national registries, there was evidence of higher rates of implant revision [early replacement] associated with metal-on-metal implants.
"Results do not indicate any advantage for metal-on-metal or ceramic-on-ceramic implants compared with traditional ... bearings."
Last Reviewed: 09 December 2011