Traditional hip implants are made with ceramic or plastic parts, but metal-on-metal implants were designed with all metal parts intended to be more durable and hold up better over time. However, that proved not to be the case. All-metal hip implants were failing at a higher than expected rate.
Hip implants should last as long as 20 years or more. Many of the metal-on-metal hip implants being investigated in this litigation have been found to fail within as little as five years. Many patients have had to undergo revision surgery to remove and replace their defective metal hip implant. These surgeries are typically more invasive and require longer recovery than initial hip replacement surgery.
Patients who reported problems in the first five years and had revision surgery reported a variety of symptoms, including pain, swelling and problems walking. These symptoms are normal for patients following a hip replacement, but can be a sign that something is wrong if they Continue or come back frequently. These symptoms may indicate serious problems, including:
- Loosening — when the implant does not stay attached to the bone in the correct position
- Fracture — where the bone around the implant may have broken
- Dislocation — where the two parts of the implant that move against each other are no longer aligned
It was discovered that as the metal parts of the device rubbed together, bits of metal would fall into the joint space, inflaming and damaging tissue causing the device to fail.
The metal bits were also leeching into the bloodstream causing a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis. Short-term symptoms of metallosis range from fatigue to headaches. No one is sure of the long-term effects though some studies show that metallosis can damage DNA, which can lead to serious health complications including cancer.
Physicians advise people who have undergone hip replacement surgery who have, or think they have, a metal-on-metal implant to contact their orthopedic surgeon even if the joint appears to be functioning well to rule out metallosis.
These defective hip devices are manufactured by various companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics, among others. Lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of these defective hip implants by people who have been injured by the device.