Researchers have found that the substance that forms in patients with all metal artificial hip implants contain a common lubricant called graphite. This discovery can help in designing longer lasting implants, according to an article written by Susan Kelly from the Reuters.
These types of metal-on-metal hip implants were actually developed to be more durable than other types of hip implants that combine metal and polyethylene for the ball-in-socket. However, FDA found that studies show patients who receive metal-on-metal hip implants are more likely to need repeat surgery than those who received hip implants made of other materials.
A study, which included U.S. and German scientists, found graphitic carbon in a lubricating layer that was found to form on the surface of the ball and socket implanted on the metallic hips. This occurred as a direct result of friction when the two surfaces move against each other. Research indicates that this was known already from other research studies but the assumption was made that the substance was made of proteins.
However, the substance is more like a lubricant. With this knowledge, there can be a new approach to designing the device that could lead to a safer and better working implant that can last longer. A professor from the Northwestern University near Chicago, Laurence Marks, said, “Graphite has been used as a lubricant for over a century. It is a classic lubricant, and it appears to form naturally.” This professor along with other researchers studied seven implants that were taken from patients. The results and findings from their study could potentially help scientists design metal hip implants that are safer and not as easy to wear. This study was published in the journal Science and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
In the United States alone, there are more than 450,000 Americans who undergo hip replacement each year! With this study, we see that there were safer alternative measures Johnson & Johnson could have used in the ASR hip implants that they recently recalled. Yet they didn’t and now 10,000’s of patients are suffering. DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson led many patients with damaged hips to believe their metal-on-metal ASR Hip Replacement System would improve the pain and mobility of their hip. The truth has now been revealed—the danger of this recalled hip replacement system is just as harmful if not more so as a damaged hip!
If you or someone you love have fallen victim to the failed DePuy ASR hip implant, contact our attorneys for a free case evaluation and consultation regarding your defective hip implant.