Hip replacements have improved the lives of many people since their inception in the 1960s. Their use was limited, but improvements in design meant they became more common in the 1980s. In the 2000s, manufacturers DePuy, Biomet, and Stryker created metal on metal hip replacement units and wasted no time in pushing their product to orthopedic surgeons. However, unbeknownst to physicians, the metal on metal design was flawed before it left the drawing board. The end result is that thousands of patients had a defective product placed into their body. Manufacturers pulled their product from the market in 2010, but the damage has been done. Many patients have filed a metal on metal hip lawsuit to recover damages for the suffering they experienced as a result of the bad design.
How Metal on Metal Hip Replacements Fail
A hip replacement has two parts: socket and ball. The ball rotates in the socket during the walking stride and presses against the socket in the hip. Soft tissues cushion the ball and allow the joint to work without grinding against one another. Hip replacements are designed to mimic this action. However, a metal on metal hip replacement has no cushion. The metal surfaces grind against each other and cause friction. Metal shavings are created that are then free to get into the patient’s bloodstream and tissues in a process known as metallosis.
Understanding the Dangers of Metallosis
Metallosis happens when the metal shavings poison bloodstream and infiltrate surrounding tissues. The hip replacements use metals that include cobalt, nickel, titanium, chromium, and molybdenum. When contained in a device, they’re safe. It’s when they’re released into the body that they become dangerous. Symptoms of metallosis include:
- Pain in hip and/or groin
- Affected gait or inability to walk
- Skin conditions
- Heart problems
- Kidney issues
Hip Revision Surgery
When a patient has been injured by their hip replacement device, they typically undergo hip revision surgery to correct the issue. Sometimes the surgery is a complete replacement of the device, other times the surgeon repairs the damaged area. What this means for a patient is the need to undergo surgery and the healing process a second time. Had the device not been defective, the patient would be spared the need to undergo further surgeries and not have to consider a metal on metal hip lawsuit to recover damages for pain and suffering.
This type of hip replacement was pulled from the market in 2010, but as of 2018, it was estimated that at least 80% of these replacements are still in place after surgery. Someone who has suffered injury from the installation of one of these units can file a metal on metal hip lawsuit against the manufacturer to recover damages. Manufacturers of this device put profit over safety and patients had their lives affected severely as a result.