Friday, 19 May, 2000, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Huge rupture rate in breast implants
Many of the inplants had ruptured
Almost seven out of ten silicone-gel breast implants scanned by researchers had developed a leak. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study could reawaken the debate over the safety of breast implants.
Many women claim that leaking silicone-gel has sparked serious illness, including chronic autoimmune disease.
The FDA team used MRI scans too look at 344 women with implants.
They found that 69% had a least one ruptured implant.
And in 21%, the silicone gel contained within the implant had leaked beyond the breast into other parts of the body.
In another part of the study, 907 women who had undergone breast enhancement surgery were interviewed.
Recently published studies have shown that women with silicone gel-filled breast implants do not have a greatly increased risk of some well-defined autoimmune diseases, which were among the serious health concerns surrounding the devices. These include potentially fatal connective tissue diseases such as scleroderma and lupus erythematosus.
The new studies do not, however, rule out the possibility that a subset of women with implants may have a small increased risk of these conditions, or that some women might develop other immune-related symptoms that don't conform to "classic" disease descriptions.
Nor did the studies address other important safety questions, including implant rupture rates and the incidence of capsular contracture (shrinking of scar tissue around the implant, which can cause painful hardening of the breast or distort its appearance). Answers to these and other questions await the results of new or ongoing studies.
Widespread reports of adverse reactions to silicone gel-filled implants and a lack of evidence supporting their safety led the Food and Drug Administration to order the devices off the market in April 1992. They remained available only to women in clinical studies, mostly women seeking breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. Saline-filled implants were allowed to remain on the market for all uses.
Reasons for New Studies
Breast implants had been marketed since the early 1960s--several years before the first medical device law was enacted in 1976, charging FDA with regulation of medical devices. Every year, thousands of American women had implant surgery for augmentation (to enlarge or reshape their breasts) or for reconstruction following mastectomy (removal of the breast) to treat breast cancer. Most of the implants consisted of a rubber silicone envelope filled with silicone gel; about 10 percent were filled with saline (salt water).
Silicone gel-filled breast implants (a 52K JPEG file)
Saline-filled breast implants (a 42K JPEG file)
Under the 1976 law, implants and many other devices already in use were allowed to remain on the market, with the understanding that the agency would at some time ask manufacturers to submit scientific data showing these "grandfathered" products were safe and effective.
FDA requested this information for silicone gel-filled implants in April 1991 in response to a growing number of adverse reaction reports that raised safety concerns about the devices. The data submitted did not prove the devices safe, as required by law, so the agency restricted their use to clinical trials designed to resolve the safety questions.
Between Jan. 1, 1985, and Sept. 17, 1996, FDA received 103,343 adverse reaction reports associated with silicone breast implants and 23,454 reports involving the saline implants. Because these figures come from all databases, there may be a few duplicate reports. The reports included risks clearly associated with the devices, as well as adverse effects attributed to the implants, but not proved to be linked to them. (See "Known Risks of Breast Implants" and "Possible Risks of Breast Implants.")...
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