Minneapolis Hip Replacement Lawyers
Handling Defective Medical Device Cases Since 1986
Hip replacements can be an unpleasant experience, no matter what your artificial hip is made from. Metal-on-metal hip implants carry with them additional risks on top of those generally associated with hip replacement surgery. Manufacturers have known of the additional risks metal-on-metal hips carry since the 1970s.
At GoldenbergLaw, PLLC, our Minneapolis defective hip replacement lawyers have been fighting for the rights of those injured by defectively designed metal-on-metal hip implants for over 30 years. We understand the inherent complexities of these types of litigations and know how to handle your claim. We can work with you to not only seek the compensation you deserve, but also to restore your quality of life.
Contact us online or by phone at (800) 504-0281 to schedule a free consultation. Our team has recovered millions for clients who have been injured by defective medical devices in mass tort claims since 1986.
How Hip Replacement Injuries Occur
If a hip implant is defectively designed, mechanical failure can occur in the form of wear, loosening, or breakage. Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems have become notorious over the past decade or so for their mechanical failure. No matter the type of implant, there have been consistent occurrences of device failure where one metal component rubs against another. While some devices have been recalled, others have not.
Some examples of problematic metal-on-metal hip implant systems include:
- DePuy ASR
- DePuy Pinnacle
- Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II
- Stryker V40 femoral head component
- Smith & Nephew Modular SMF and Redapt
- Zimmer Durom Cup
- Wright Profemur
In all of the above-named hip implant models, the devices are failing at points where metal rubs against metal, shedding metal particles into the patient’s bloodstream, soft tissue, and other organs. Since a majority of metal-on-metal hip implants are made of cobalt and chromium, doctors are finding that patients may test positive for high metal levels in their bloodstream. High metal levels can lead to problems such as osteolysis, necrosis, and pseudotumors.
Common Injuries Associated with Hip Replacements
Metal Poisoning (Metallosis): One way in which hip replacement failure occurs is through metallosis. Because metal-on-metal hip implants are made of metal materials, metallic ions, and particles, often from the cobalt-chromium components, these devices can cause major medical issues for the patient. The shedding of cobalt and chromium in the bloodstream can be extremely harmful to the body. Even if you have metal poisoning (metallosis), it is not always painful, so you may not immediately feel it or know that it is happening. This is why it is important to ask your doctor to test your blood for cobalt and chromium levels if you have a metal-on-metal hip implant.
Damage of the Bone and Soft Tissue: Metal particles contaminate the tissue and bone surrounding the hip implant. The body can have a negative reaction to the metal particles. This reaction is known as adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR). When this happens the bone and soft tissue become damaged leading to other problems like implant loosening, device failure, and the need for revision surgery. In revision surgery, the surgeon replaces the existing hip implant with a new one. Revision surgery is an invasive process where the device is chiseled and hammered out of the surrounding bone and soft tissue.
Often surgeons open the patient’s hip to find that the surrounding soft tissue and/or bone has died and turned black due to necrosis caused by metallosis. Necrosis is defined as the premature death of cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or poor blood supply to the organ. One can only imagine the physical therapy and rehabilitation it would take to ever stand or walk again after needing to replace not only the hip joint, but also the bone and tissue surrounding it.
Pseudotumors: When soft tissue surrounding the hip implant reacts adversely, legions called pseudotumors can begin to form, but they are not always noticeable to the patient. A study on the prevalence of pseudotumors in metal-on-metal hip recipients published in The Journal of Arthroplasty showed that “68.6% [of patients evaluated] developed pseudotumor with 60.9% of the asymptomatic group developing pseudotumor.” The study also showed that elevated cobalt levels in the bloodstream were associated with larger pseudotumors.
Taper Lock Failure: The advantage of modular metal-on-metal hip implants is that they are customizable. Because there are a variety of neck sizes and angles, the surgeon has the flexibility to implant a neck that is the best fit for the patient. The disadvantage of modular metal-on-metal hip implants is that there is now one more place for metal to rub against metal, leading to corrosion of the metal components. Corrosion of this neck/stem or neck/head juncture also causes further release of metallic particles, negative reactions with the tissue, and often ultimately requires revision surgery. A May 2016 study in the Journal of Arthroplasty recently concluded that the high prevalence of severe taper corrosion may be related to elevated cobalt and chromium levels in the patient before revision surgery takes place.
Dissociation: Dissociation of the hip implant occurs when the components fall apart or disconnect. This type of complication occurs most in hip implants with large metal modular femoral heads. A large femoral head can place a large amount of stress on the taper-neck junction where the ball connects to the neck of the femoral stem. As a result, fretting and corrosion of the taper become more likely due to the design of the implant. If there is too much fretting and corrosion between the head and taper, the system falls apart, setting the patient up for a less than pleasant experience.
Acetabular Component Failure: An artificial acetabular system includes the cup and sometimes liner and ball of the artificial hip joint. The acetabular components fail for similar reasons as the taper lock. When adjacent pieces of the acetabular system are metal, the metals can rub together with movement, resulting in metal wear, corrosion, and metallosis. This metal-on-metal wear can damage the tissue and muscle around the hip device, causing the metal to be released into the body, including the bloodstream, and can cause loosening, or device repositioning, severe pain, and often a required removal surgery. This can also lead to a painful dislocation of the hip from its socket which is an experience most people would not wish on their worst enemy.
Symptoms of Defective Hip Replacements & Injuries
Hip implant recipients, and especially those with metal-on-metal hip implants, should take care to follow up with their orthopedic surgeon if they’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the groin, hip, or leg
- Swelling at or near the hip joint
- A limp or change in walking ability
- Noise (popping, grinding, clicking, or squeaking) from the hip joint
Even if you’re showing none of the above symptoms you may still be at risk for high metal levels and the associated problems it may cause.
Ask your doctor about the following tests to ensure you are not at risk for high metal levels and revision surgery:
- Using a needle to remove fluid from around the joint (joint aspiration)
- Soft tissue imaging
- Blood tests, including checking levels of metal ions in the blood
What are Hip Replacement Revision Surgeries?
Revision surgeries require additional steps in order to retrieve the problematic hip components making the results less predictable and complications more frequent.
Revision surgery for hip replacements generally occurs in three phases:
- An incision larger than the initial incision is made in the hip joint to remove the problematic components. Surgeons sacrifice soft tissue and muscle to cause minimal damage to the bone that now contains the hip replacement components. Using special equipment, surgeons remove the components and any cement used to hold the components in place. This is a rather gruesome process, as it involves digging and sawing through the bone that has now grown around the implant.
- The second phase is all about replacing bone lost in the process of recovering the problematic hip components. Surgeons typically use a bone graft or additional metal supports to create a solid foundation for the new hip replacement components.
- In the third phase, the new components are placed via the same method mentioned above.
If an infection is the reason for revision, an additional step may be needed between phases two and three. In this situation, a spacer containing antibiotics to help fight the infection is implanted until the infection clears. Once the infection has cleared, new components can be inserted.
GoldenbergLaw Can Help
GoldenbergLaw’s knee and hip recall attorneys aim to hold these companies responsible for actions that harm your health and well-being. Defective medical devices can affect thousands of people nationwide. We have the desire, experience, and resources to hold these companies responsible through mass tort cases. Common defendants involved in lawsuits include Biomet, DePuy Orthopedics, Smith & Nephew PLC, Stryker Orthopedics, Wright Medical Group, and Zimmer, Inc.
We know that injuries can not only be physically painful, but place a major strain on your finances. You may be facing thousands of dollars in medical bills from having to undergo revision surgery and hospitalization, as well as lost income from having to miss or quit work. We can calculate and work to recover these damages for you.
If you have experienced problems due to your hip replacement device, contact the Minneapolis hip replacement lawyers at GoldenbergLaw to discuss your potential hip replacement implant lawsuit.
Call (800) 504-0281 to schedule a free consultation.