Our Hip-Check test will check the levels of chromium and cobalt in your blood and identify if they are at a safe or toxic level.
In the UK, approximately 70,000 hip replacements are performed each year. In a total hip replacement operation an artificial ball is attached to the top of the leg bone and an artificial socket to the hip bone.
The socket can be made out of plastic or ceramic, while the ball is metal. The ball is attached to a shaft, which is placed in the hollow of the leg bone (femur). Some people do not need a total hip replacement, but have a hip resurfacing operation. This has the advantage of removing less of the person’s own bone. The joint surfaces are replaced with metal inserts that cover the surfaces of the hip but do not extend down the inside or hollow of the leg bone. The metal mixtures used in hip replacements contain the metals chromium and cobalt.
As the hip replacements wear down, metal particles can be released from the artificial hip, react with the soft tissue (such as muscle and ligaments) surrounding the joint and enter the bloodstream.
In 2010, the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a product recall for DePuy ASR, a brand of MoM artificial hip. This meant that surgeons were told not to implant DePuy ASR hip replacements and return any unused implants to the manufacturer.
The MHRA has urged surgeons to tell all patients that had received these DePuy ASR hip replacements about the recall, and to schedule them for annual follow-up visits.
If the person who had a DePuy ASR hip replacement implant experiences pain, the surgeons should consider measuring the level of metals in their blood and should examine the soft tissue to see if reactions have occurred. If necessary, removal and replacement of the implant should be considered.
People who have had a hip replacement, who are concerned, should contact their orthopaedic surgeon or GP. They should be given records of the type of hip replacement they had and receive the follow-up, if any, that is required.
DePuy says it is "committed to addressing reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment for reasons related to the recall, including revision surgery if necessary". The company has set up a freephone helpline on 0800 279 4865 for patients to register, have their questions answered and submit claims for reimbursement. DePuy says it will also cover recall-related patients' out-of-pocket expenses, such as lost wages and travel costs.