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What Are Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants?

Written by Ankin Law Office

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.

What Are Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants?

There are two types of metal-on-metal hip implants: (1) traditional total hip replacement implants, and (2) total resurfacing hip implant. Metal-on-metal hip implants were designed to provide a number of benefits to recipients, including decreased the likelihood of device failure, decreased chance of dislocation, and the removal of less total material from the ball and socket when they rub against each other.

Unfortunately, the metal-on-metal devices can end up doing more harm than good because the metal ball and metal cup slide against each other when the recipient walks or runs. As the metal pieces rub against one another, tiny metal particles can wear off the device and enter the tissues surrounding the hip replacement site. Over time, the metal particles can cause damage to surrounding bone or tissue.

Evidence of Problems Associated with Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Recent data indicates that metal-on-metal hip implants are more dangerous than other kinds of hip implants. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a report indicating that FDA data indicates that metal-on-metal hip replacement systems are more likely to fail than other hip implant devices. According to the FDA, metal-on-metal hip replacement devices were associated with approximately 16,800 adverse event reports between 2000 and 2011. In fact, in 2011 alone, metal-on-metal hip implants comprised 12,137 of the FDA complaints, whereas other hip replacement systems only made up 6,332 of the total FDA complaints.

Last month, the FDA’s Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel advised that metal-on-metal hip replacement recipients who were experiencing symptoms indicative of implant failure should see their doctor to have X-rays, MRIs and CT scans performed in order to detect abnormalities. Blood testing may also be required in order to test for metal ions.

Moreover, according to this article, a number of studies have found evidence that the recipients of metal-on-metal hip implants may face a significant risk of developing serious complications including tissue damage, device failure, need for revision surgery and long-term disability due to corrosion and shedding of metal ions from the implants. In February 2012, for example, the British Medical Journal alerted the public about potentially high levels of metallic ions released by all-metal hip implants. Another study called for a ban on the metal-on-metal him implants after finding that the devices failed at significantly higher rates than their ceramic and plastic hip implants. In May, a study published in the Journal of Arthroplasty indicated that metal-on-metal implants corrode faster than metal-on-polyethylene, and most recently, a study published in Chemical Communications found possible evidence of genotoxicity in metal hip patients who experienced inflammation and subsequent revision surgery.

Recalled Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Some metal-on-metal hip implant systems have been recalled, including the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implant, DePuy ASR™ XL Acetabular System and Zimmer Durom® Acetabular Component. Patients who have received one of the recalled hip implants, and patients who are suffering from pain or swelling symptoms, should immediately consult with their doctor. Symptoms of a failed hip implant system often include pain in the groin, hip or leg; swelling at or near the hip joint; and a limp or change in walking ability.

You may also wish to consult with a skilled hip implant attorney as you may be entitled to compensation for injuries in a product liability or medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact the Chicago product liability lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC at (312) 600-0000 to learn more about the dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants.

Categories: Product Liability