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Texas Personal Injury News

Monday, March 28, 2016

Serious Consequences, Including Cobalt Toxicity, Result from Metal Hip Implants

What are some of the dangerous complications of having metal hip replacements?

Though many recipients of metal hip implants have been completely satisfied with their medical devices, thousands of patients who have gone through the surgery have reported serious problems. It a great many cases, such dissatisfaction has resulted in recalls, lawsuits, and even government action.

While over the past many years, metal hip replacements have become increasingly common as an improvement on plastic and ceramic prosthetics for replacement of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip, promising relief from the severe pain of osteoarthritis or athletic injury, there has been a high rate of complications with these metal devices. This has been true whether the patients having metal hip replacements were over or under the age of 50. Since 285,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed each year, and since medical research has shown a failure rate as high as 50 percent within six months, we are talking about a very serious problem.

Types of Problems Reported with Metal Hip Implants

Many types of problems have arisen with metal hip implants, including:

  • Metal debris left inside the body
  • Cobalt Toxicity, when flakes of cobalt enter the body
  • Other metallosis, when metallic components in implants abrade one another

When metal hip replacements fail, they require surgical replacement.

Symptoms of Metallosis and Cobalt Toxicity

Metallosis occurs when two portions of the joint replacement rub against one another, causing metal flakes to chip off and enter adjacent tissues and blood vessels. This can result in pain around the hip joint, as well as swelling and inflammation, numbness, bone loss, tissue death, and a recurrence of mobility problems. Even more frightening, metal flakes can travel to other organs, such as the heart, leading to dangerous complications.

Cobalt Toxicity

In addition to the symptoms brought about by other types of metallosis, when cobalt has been used as the material for the hip replacement, patients may also suffer from cobalt toxicity. Elevated cobalt levels can result in fever, inflammation, and lowered thyroid hormone levels. In severe cases, patients can also experience heart failure, loss of vision, loss of hearing, and organ damage.

Recalls and Lawsuits

Because of the high rate of failure in metal hip replacements, most manufacturers no longer sell them. Not only did the various patient injuries lead to widespread negative media coverage, increased research studies, and elevated levels of government regulation, but thousands of patients filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of the defective replacement hips. Some manufacturers have already settled hip replacement lawsuits. Johnson and Johnson (the parent company of DePuy Orthopedics), for example, has agreed to settle claims for $2.5 billion. Lawsuits against other metal hip replacement manufacturers are still pending.

If you have suffered personal injury or illness as a result of an artificial hip replacement or the implantation of some other medical device, be sure to contact an attorney experienced in this particular branch of law to find out whether you are entitled to monetary compensation. You may be entitled to a new replacement joint, as well as damages even if you have not yet experienced any pain or difficulty.


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