Hip and knee replacement systems are one of the most popular medical devices used today. Each year, more than a million Americans receive an artificial hip or knee replacement. Although the implants are designed to last up to 15 years, many times a patient who receives a total joint replacement will need to have the implant replaced early, which can cause dangerous complications for elderly patients.
According to this article in Science Daily, a team of chemical engineers at MIT has developed a new coating for implants that could help them better adhere to the patient’s bone, preventing premature failure and minimizing the likelihood of replacement operations. The researchers are currently performing animal studies that have produced promising results.
According to Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering at MIT and senior author of a paper summarizing the work that appeared in the journal Advanced Materials, the coating “would allow the implant to last much longer, to its natural lifetime, with lower risk of failure and infection.”
To secure hip and knee implants, surgeons typically use bone cement, a polymer that resembles glass when hardened. In some cases, the bone cement cracks and the implant detaches from the bone, causing chronic pain and loss of mobility.
Conversely, this new coating induces the body to produce actual bone that holds the implant in place. Although it takes at least two or three weeks for the bone to fill in and completely stabilize the implant, according to the researchers, the patient would still be able to walk and undergo physical therapy during this time.
Because the coating stimulates the growth of natural bone by the body, it could also be used to help heal fractures and improve dental implants, according to Hammond and lead author Nisarg Shah, a graduate student in Hammond’s lab.
As we have reported, the DePuy hip replacement systems, manufactured by DePuy Orthopedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, were recalled in 2010 as a result of higher-than-normal failure rates associated with the devices and complaints that many patients were experiencing serious side effects from the hip replacement systems. Many doctors believe that the cup of the DePuy ASR him implant was too shallow, which led to improper implantation and other health complications, including the release of potentially dangerous levels of chromium and cobalt into the body.
If you suspect that your hip or knee replacement system is causing medical problems, such as swelling or pain, you should see your doctor immediately. You may also want to consult with a knowledgeable Chicago product liability attorney like those at Ankin Law Offices, LLC.