Nov 18, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Kathy Wilets

The Johnson & Johnson company has agreed to pay more than $4 billion to settle lawsuits over its metal-on-metal hip implants. The recalled implants caused serious complications in patients including pain and metal debris in the bloodstream.

Chris Pelt, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with University of Utah Health, says metal-on-metal implants were originally developed to offer patients a more durable alternative to plastic implants. “The plastic implants were wearing out prematurely, but we ended up trading one detrimental effect for a different detrimental effect.”

Pelt says doctors at the U of U no longer use metal-on-metal implants, instead opting for newer technology that yields better results. He says that while not all metal implants cause problems, doctors still keep a close watch on patients who have them. “I don’t want patients to lose faith in implants because of this. Hip implants are a great option for many people because they can restore quality of life. We’ll continue to study this issue more and find newer and better ways to help patients who suffer from joint pain.”

Kathy Wilets

Kathy Wilets is the associate director of public affairs for University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter: @kwilets.

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