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DePuy Hip Recall: A Patient’s guide to what to ask your doctor

This is a reference guide to help people with defective Metal-On-Metal hip implants, specifically the recalled DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System.

It deals with the information to give to your doctor that he/she needs to make a full assessment of your needs.

Tell your doctor if you are having any pain or discomfort. Tell your doctor if you’ve noticed any changes in your hip(s) or your gait. Tell your doctor if you have noticed any stiffness or resistance in the hip(s) with the implants.

Ask your doctor if he/she intends performing a blood test to check the levels of cobalt and/or chromium in your blood. These metals can be harmful if present in your body in elevated amounts and have been associated with damage to soft tissue and can also be an early indicator for hip implant failure.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency recommends, as a guideline for doctors, that the presence of these metals in the blood at a level of just 7 parts per billion (ppb) is an unacceptable level. They recommend check-ups every 3 months for people with those levels of metals in their blood.

You may be notified of the the levels of Cobalt and Chromium in your blood. Ask your doctor what the meaning of those levels are. Also, be sure to ask whether those levels are falling, rising or staying the same. If they are rising- even if they have not reached the 7ppb level, you should ask your doctor what is his/her opinion on revision surgery is in your case. Is it necessary?

For reference: 7 parts per billion (ppb) equals 119 nmol/L cobalt or 134.5 nmol/L chromium

If your doctor recommends surgery, ask him/her what impact this will have on your future health and whether the proposed replacement hips are likely to need to be replaced in your lifetime. If so, ask your doctor for his/her assessment of what the lifespan of your new, replacement, hip implants might be.