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Michael Monheit
Michael Monheit
Attorney • (215) 840-6573

Dangers of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

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When a patient suffers from hip joint deterioration a total hip replacement or hip resurfacing can change that patient’s life for the better. Patients may receive a “metal-on-metal” hip implant in which the “ball and socket” of the device are both made from metal. The problem is that those "metal-on-metal implants can actually add to a patient’s health problems rather than solve them. The FDA’s website offers different articles containing important information about the potential dangers of these implants.

There can be unique risks associated with "metal-on-metal implants." The metal ball and the metal cup slide against each other during walking or running, which can cause some tiny metal particles to wear off of the device and enter into the space around the implant. Additionally, some of the metal ions from the metal implant or from the metal particles may even get into the bloodstream.

Common symptoms which indicate that the device may not be functioning properly include:

  • Pain in the groin, hip or leg
  • Swelling at or near the hip joint
  • A limp or change in walking ability

You can click here for more information about potential signs of health concerns.

The website also provides important information for orthopaedic surgeons regarding metal-on-metal implants.

  • Surgeons should not implant MoM hip systems in:
    • Patients with known moderate to severe renal insufficiency
    • Patients with known metal sensitivity (e.g. cobalt, chromium, nickel)
    • Patients with suppressed immune systems
    • Patients currently receiving high doses of corticosteroids
    • Females of childbearing age
  • For more advice click here.

    A limited number of case reports in the medical literature have suggested the potential for systemic effects of elevated metal ion levels resulting from device wear in metal-on-metal (MoM) hip systems. These effects have included cardiomyopathy, thyroid dysfunction, and neurological changes including sensory, auditory, and visual impairments.

    More information for all health care professionals is available here.

    There is also information available for patients, about the FDA’s role, recalls and suggestions for reporting a problem.

The problems associated with "metal-on-metal" implants are not imaginary. They are very real. In fact, the DePuy ASR hip implants were recalled after more than two years of reports about early hip implant failure. As a result of the recall countless patients have required revision surgery. Anapol Schwartz provides more information about the recall on its website.

There have also been reported problems with the Zimmer Durom hip implant. As of yet, there has not been a recall. There have, however, been lawsuits filed. The extent of Zimmer’s potential liability and responsbility remains to be determined. More information is available on Anapol Schwartz’s website.

Conclusion
There are some serious concerns regarding the "metal-on-metal" implants. The FDA’s website, however, provides some important information for professionals and patients. By utilizing the resources available patients have the ability to recognize the symptoms and address the problem at an early stage. While catching a defective implant doesn’t make the product work properly, it does allow for some damage control.