Influx of Injuries Result From the Use of Metal-on Metal Hip Replacements

Scrutiny regarding the surgical implantation of metal-on-metal hip replacements has risen within the last year. Typically given to those who have lost a considerable degree of mobility in their hip at the expense of subsequent pain, metal-on-metal hip implants offer patients the ability regain functionality that had previously been lost. However, medical professionals well versed in the field of orthopedics, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), believe that metal-on-metal hip implants demonstrate a propensity for failure and the development of severe complications.

Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems consist of metallic components (cobalt and chromium) in order to promote longevity and dexterity. However, recent evidence suggests that these metallic components may be prone to failure in defective hip replacements. Accordingly, the wear and tear that ball and socket components generate may lead to significant deterioration over a seemingly short period of time. This degeneration has a tendency to create minute metal shavings that have the potential to cause significant damage to an individual. As a result, these metal pieces may lead to the development of metallosis. Metallosis witnesses the leeching of hazardous metal shards into the fluid of surrounding tissue. The resulting damage may lead to severe pain and even the death of localized tissue.

Of those that have fallen victim to defective metal-on-metal hip replacements, is one Susy Mansfield. Mansfield, 57 at the time, received a metal-on-metal hip replacement in 2009. However, she recently found herself in an operating room at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston undergoing major hip surgery. The reasoning behind her subsequent surgery was the development of chronic pain. “It’s terrible,” she said a few days before the revision surgery. “It’s a hot pain … that’s there all the time. Every step is agony.” Admittedly, painkillers are the only thing that allowed her to sleep at night.

Orthopedic surgeon Young-min Kwon, at Mass General, preformed the revision surgery and acknowledged extensive damage that had taken place due to the hip implant. “You can see here the yellowish discoloration of the tissue that is no longer functioning,” as he is referring to the dead muscle tissue in Mansfield’s hip. Furthermore, investigations revealed more extensive damage than originally anticipated. “You see that staining? Black staining of the tissue?” Kwon says. “We call that metallosis.”

Metallosis is the buildup of metal debris. Tiny pieces of cobalt and chromium have the potential to break off the implant and work their way into surrounding tissue. It often causes swelling, tissue death and the kind of burning pain. Instances of metallosis have become more common in those with metal-on-metal hip implants, an influx that has regulatory agencies worried.

The following FDA concerns acknowledge the potential dangers associated with receiving metal-on-metal hip replacements:

Because the metal ball and the metal cup slide against each other during walking or running, some tiny metal particles may wear off of the device and enter into the space around the implant. Some of the metal ions from the metal implant or from the metal particles may even get into the bloodstream. However, it is known that over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant and joint. This is sometimes referred to as an “adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR)” or an “adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD).” Such a reaction may cause the implant to become loose or cause pain. Ultimately this can require a revision surgery where the old device is removed and replaced with another one.

In addition to these reactions to metal near the joint and implant, there are some case reports in the literature of a small number of patients in which high levels of metal ions in the bloodstream may have caused other types of symptoms or illnesses elsewhere in the body, including effects on the heart, nervous system, and thyroid gland.

Do I Have a Defective Hip Replacement Lawsuit?

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