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Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

We Represent Individuals Injured by Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Artificial hip implants suffer from the same issues from which natural hips suffer: wear and tear on the joint. That being said, artificial hip implants expose recipients to certain risks because of their construction and chemical composition. There are a number of options when it comes to hip-replacement surgery, including various devices and the way the procedure is performed. Total hip replacement is a different animal from hip resurfacing. The different possibilities can result in less-than-optimal choices that can result from insufficient information. Hip replacements involving metal-on-metal designs, for instance, can be much more problematic than other available options. Wear between the metal ball and the metal cup that make up the hip replacement components can have dramatic adverse effects on the recipient of a metal-on-metal hip replacement.

If you have been injured by such a hip replacement in Georgia, you should contact the defective medical device lawyers of Slappey & Sadd as soon as you can. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and will only collect legal fees if we win your case.

What is a Hip Implant?

Hip implants, often referred to as hip replacements, come in a variety of types. All of them are intended to alleviate pain and restore the loss of mobility associated with a variety of hip diseases and injuries, including arthritis. There are a number of hip-implant designs, each carrying distinct advantages and risks. There are five basic types of hip implants or hip replacements, including:

  • Metal-on-polyethylene: In this design, the ball is made of metal and the socket of polyethylene, a plastic. In some devices, the socket has a plastic lining.
  • Ceramic-on-polyethylene: The ball in this design is made of ceramic, while the socket has a plastic lining.
  • Metal-on-metal: Both the band and socket are made of metal.
  • Ceramic-on-ceramic: In this design, the ball is made of ceramic, and the socket has a ceramic lining.
  • Ceramic-on-metal: This design involves a ball made of ceramic with a socket with a metal lining.

Your orthopedic surgeon will typically decide which option is best for you, taking into account your age, height, weight, how active you are, and the cause of your hip pain.

Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Come With Unique Risks

All hip implant materials carry risks, but metal-on-metal implants, where the ball and socket both are made of metal, come with risks unique to the material. With implants where the socket and the ball both are made of metal, the friction between the two parts of the joint can result in tiny metal particles being released into the body as a result. Wear from friction, as well as corrosion of the metal, can occur. Consequently, metal ions from the replacement joint, usually made of cobalt and chromium, can enter the bloodstream. Intended as a more durable alternative to plastic or ceramic hip implants, metal-on-metal implants have proven to be less reliable, with a higher failure rate than other implant materials in addition to the potential release of metal particles into the bloodstream.

While your surgeon usually will take precautions to minimize this problem, there is no way to eliminate the production of metal particles from a metal-on-metal hip implant. There will be friction between the ball and socket, and tiny metal particles will be released. Reactions to these particles in the bloodstream vary by individual, but reactions are potentially quite severe.

These metal particles ultimately can result in damage to the bone or tissue adjacent to the implant in the hip joint. Known as adverse local tissue reaction or adverse reaction to metal debris, this can cause damage to surrounding soft tissue leading to pain in the joint, loosening of the implant itself, or even failure of the implant, meaning surgery is required to replace the failed implant. Not replacing the implant in such cases can lead to considerable damage to bone, muscle, and nerves surrounding the implant site. A number of international health agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have issued warnings regarding the use of metal-on-metal hip implants. Some of these warnings apply to implant devices that are not available in the United States, but the FDA still recommends that even patients without any symptoms of problems follow up with their surgeon every couple of years to monitor their metal-on-metal hip implant’s status.

What Kinds of Symptoms can a Metal-on-Metal Implant Cause?

Among the well-known complications from metal-on-metal implants are bone loss and subsequent failure of the implant as a result. German researchers believe that the metal debris that enters the body from metal-on-metal implants might inhibit the formation of new bone, which would make the failure of the implant even more likely. Other adverse effects from metal-on-metal implants are the same as those possible with other hip-implant materials, include infections, a loosening of the hip joint, bone loss, a fracture of the implant or of the surrounding bone, and dislocation of the hip. These kinds of developments are not immediately apparent, however, and are unlikely to be noticed by the patient, likely right up until the implant fails. So how can you tell if your metal-on-metal hip implant is adversely affecting your health? Among more easily noticed symptoms of problems with your metal-on-metal hip implant are

  • Pain in your hip or groin pain
  • Swelling or numbness in the hip area
  • Negative effects on your ability to walk.

There are other symptoms of health problems that are more specific to metal-on-metal hip implants. Because of the materials used, metal ions released by friction in the artificial joint enter the bloodstream. In many cases, these ions cause health problems unique to metal-on-metal implants, including:

  • Skin rashes
  • Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder to pump blood
  • Neurological problems leading to sensory changes including impairments to vision or hearing
  • Psychological changes, such as depression
  • Impairment of kidney function

Thyroid problems that can lead to weight gain, discomfort in your neck, chronic tiredness or fatigue, and feeling cold.

The FDA does not have statistics on how often these symptoms arise in connection with metal-on-metal hip implants, but if you suffer from any of these symptoms, you should consult your surgeon. It also would be wise to consult with an attorney, as well.

Contact an Atlanta Defective Medical Device Attorney Today

If you have received a metal-on-metal hip implant and are experiencing problems with it, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. The defective medical device lawyers at Slappey & Sadd will review your case for free and will never collect any legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta. Call us today at 404-255-6677 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a lawyer.

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