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Published on Feb 14, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants: More Harm than Good?

metal hip implants

Hip replacements, one of the most common orthopedic surgeries, are supposed to relieve pain and increase mobility. However, tens of thousands of Americans may have received faulty implants that can cause long-term medical complications even after they are removed.

Metal-on-metal implants were designed to last 15 years, but some are failing within just a few years. These implants fail at a much faster rate than their ceramic and plastic counterparts due to the implant pieces moving against each other.

This friction can lead to metallosis, a condition that occurs when two metal parts rub against each other and deposit metal debris. The debris lodges itself in nearby bone and soft tissue and enters the bloodstream. Medical complications include inflammation, tissue death, and, in rare cases, heart and nervous system problems. When metallosis occurs, it is not enough to just replace the faulty hip implant -- doctors often must also remove affected tissue.

According to research:

  • There are about 250,000 hip replacement procedures done every year. In recent years, metal-on-metal implants were used in approximately a third of those.
  • Approximately 500,000 Americans are estimated to have metal-on-metal implants.
  • In a 12-month period from 2005 to 2006, 32 percent of all implants used the metal-on-metal structure (nearly 40,000 hip replacements), according to the American Society of Hip and Knee Surgeons.
  • One study stated that 98 percent of the cups and 93 percent of the balls used in these implants showed moderate to severe scratching.

Metal-on-metal implants are causing problems outside of the United States as well:

  • Thirty-three percent of patients in the Netherlands reported adverse reactions in the soft tissue.
  • Twenty-four percent of patients in England reported worsening symptoms after a revision surgery that led to additional procedures.

Current orthopedic guidelines advise against metal implants, but devices such as the Profemur Hip System, ASR products from DePuy Orthopedics, and Pinnacle Hip Solutions still use metal-on-metal components.

Those who have metal-on-metal implants should follow up with an orthopedic surgeon, especially if experiencing pain, swelling, or a limp. These are signs of an implant failure. Visit our website for more information on defective medical devices.

Our Lawyers Understand Defective Medical Device Cases

If you've been injured by a defective hip implant or any other dangerous medical product, we can help. It is the manufacturer's and supplier's responsibility to protect consumers' safety. If you or a loved one has been injured, let us know. Call us toll-free at 1-866-9-4EDGAR for a free legal consultation or fill out the form at the top right of this webpage. If you'd like us to call you, you can also use our easy "click-to-call" service that is above the form. Our law firm will fight for your legal right to fair compensation.

Source: "Faulty hip implants may cause long-term health, joint damage." USA Today. February 8, 2012
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