Metal Implants: Is Anyone Studying the Carcinogenic Potential?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

In 1975 medical journals first noted local tissue reactions to metal implants, especially those made with cobalt and chromium. Medical studies since then have noted that these metal ions lead to “genotoxic” changes in tissue. As early as 1990, the World Health Organization listed hexavalent chromium as a proved carcinogen, cobalt as a probable carcinogen, and trivalent chromium as a potential carcinogen.

The Implant Retrieval Centre in London has now confirmed trivalent chromium ions in tissue sampless from removed implants. The question becomes: what have the implant manufacturers done to study this? With failing implants such as the DePuy ASR and Pinnacle implants, as well as the Biomet M2a Magnum, why aren’t these manufacturers reassuring users there is in fact no problem? A DePuy 2005 internal email notes that there is concern that debris may be carcinogenic. Of course, that concern actually started in decades earlier. At our firm we discuss these issues with clients, along with cardiomyopathy, a noted side effect from cobalt exposure.

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