Dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants

As people age, their joints and bones become weaker after years of wear and tear pile up and compound on one another. Eventually, in many cases, people may need some of the more utilized joints – hips primarily – to be resurfaced or totally replaced when traditional physical therapy can no longer help with pain and soreness.  Medical technology is incredibly advanced in this nation, however, the practice of metal-on-metal hip replacements – replacing hips joints with metallic alloy structures made from a combination of cobalt, nickel, chromium and titanium – is complicated and can lead to severe adverse side effects on one’s health.

The FDA stresses that all hip replacements come with implicit risks, however metal-on-metal hip replacements carry a unique risk – metallosis. Metallosis is essentially blood poisoning that occurs in patients when the metal ball and socket rub against one another through daily use, releasing microscopic bits of metal into the blood stream that can lead to serious medical issues for some patients.  An FDA study from 2012 showed that of all patients that underwent hip replacement surgery with metal-on-metal implants, between 85 and 92% had no need for revision surgery, even seven years after receiving the implants. This shows that most of the time, there isn’t a real problem with hip replacements. But as with anything else, there are always unfortunate cases where things do go wrong.

Signs of metallosis

  • General hypersensitivity that results in skin rashes
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart problems)
  • Sensory changes such as with vision or hearing
  • Depression or other unusual cognitive changes
  • Kidney complications
  • Thyroid issues such as a throbbing, painful neck, weight gain, fatigue or feeling cold constantly

What to do if your hip replacement seems to be causing you issues

The first priority if you’re experiencing symptoms and you’ve had a hip replacement within the past seven years is to contact your orthopedic surgeon. These issues can be medically corrected and treated. Although metallosis cases are pretty rare in hip replacement patients, those that do suffer from it can have serious symptoms such as failure of the implant, skin necrosis (rotting), bone death and organ damage.  In many cases in the past, people have brought suit against the implant manufacturers, such as DePuy, Stryker, Smith & Nephew, OMNI and Biomet for their pain, suffering and resulting medical expenses. The first published cases of metallosis came out in the 70s, so this is not a mysterious or new phenomenon.

In the case of DePuy Orthopedics, owned by Johnson and Johnson, in 2010 they recalled two of their hip replacement products that were implemented in 93,000 cases around the world. This was due to these products resulting in an abnormally high amount of cobalt being rubbed off the implants and being absorbed into the patients’ blood stream. Even worse, it was two years after the FDA had received an influx of complaints about these types of devices causing serious medical issues.

When dealing with huge, conglomerate corporations and health insurance companies at the same time, there are simply no good options for anybody without legal training to fight and get what they deserve for their time, pain and suffering. Our attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP specialize in litigating faulty products and taking the fight to the Goliath corporations who will try to ensure your settlement is as small as possible. Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll free at 800-481-6199.

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