Despite the numerous claims of great benefits from medical device manufacturers (including DePuy, now a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), it has become quite clear the metal-on-metal hip implant does not work as advertised. These metal on metal hip implants were designed to be smoother than implants made of traditional materials, but in reality, there were various problems with these implants that resulted in tremendous amounts of pain and suffering and eventually a total device failure in some cases.
The DePuy Pinnacle or DePuy ASR hip implant has been the focus of many lawsuits as it controlled a lot of the hip implant market share, but it was not the only metal on metal hip on the market.
Zimmer Biomet Magnum Hip Implant Defect Lawsuits in Boston
As our Boston defective hip implant injury lawyers can explain, the Magnum metal on metal hip implant by then Biomet was also marketed with the same claims of benefits and leading a more active life, and it also has been shown to have major problems, including device failure and a dangerous form of metal poisoning known as “metalosis.”
According to a recent news article from KIRO 7 News, the Biomet Magnum metal-on-metal hip implant was the same one implanted in Olympic medal winner Mary Lou Retton. This was actually part of the marketing push, and one of the reasons a 62-year-old woman interviewed for the article decided to have that same model implanted in her when undergoing a total hip replacement procedure.
Following her surgery, she was expected to go back to being able to return to activities like rowing and hiking. Sadly, this did not come to fruition. She was in so much pain, she was unable to partake in any of these things. She went back to her surgeon for years following the implant and it took nearly eight years before they successfully diagnosed the issues.
Metalosis Caused by Defective Hip Implants in Boston Product Liability Lawsuits
One issue was that she was suffering from metalosis due to what doctors stated were heavy metal ions in the metal on metal hip joint. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are various types of reactions to the metal ions and they are referred either an adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD) or an adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR).
In some cases, the metal ions cause pain and suffering in the tissue immediately surrounding the metal on metal hip joint and in other cases, the metal ions can enter the patient’s blood stream causing a more systemic painful reaction.
In addition to the metalosis issues, there was also a breakdown in the hip joint that would only be fixed with removal of the metal on metal hip implant and a replacement with a different model. While any hip implant will not last forever, they all have a limited span just like the patient’s natural hip. The technology does not make these last anywhere near as long as a natural hip, but they should last at least 10 if not 20 years. In this case, it lasted seven years, but the patient was in extreme pain during most, if not all, of the time she had the implant in her hip.
The woman interviewed as part of this article has filed a products liability lawsuit against Zimmer Biomet, which is the current name of the company, which produced Biomet Magnum metal on metal hip implants. Her new hip was not a metal on metal hip implant, but rather a traditional design with a polymer liner.
One of the reasons for breakdowns in these types of hips was that metal on metal hips, as we have seen with the ones manufactured by DePuy, is the metal hip causes the body to treat it as some type of foreign body and coat it with a protein compound. This eventually causes the joint to develop friction as the protein covered surfaces rub against each other. This eventually leads to increased heat, pain, and metal shards being shaved off the ball joint. The shavings can cause metalosis as discussed above, and the uneven surface left after metal is shaved off causes the joint to move even less smoothly. Since we are dealing tremendous amounts of stress on the joint, there is a snowball effect and the problems only gets worse over time eventually leading to a device failure. This can be a partial or total device failure, but the result is generally the need for removal and a new implant. The only difference is how functional the device is prior to needing a second, and possibly third surgery to have a new implant operation performed.
In this article, doctors and patients referred to the metal on metal hip implants as ticking time bombs. This is true to a certain extent as the devices will eventually fail and there is nothing patients can do to prevent it. When they start to experience problems, they may have to undergo another surgery, but doctors are generally not going to remove the device as a preventative measure, and most patients would probably be fearful of having the additional surgery as even in the best cases, there is a lot of pain and discomfort following a total hip replacement procedure. Doctors have come a long way from where patients use to have to spend at least two weeks in the hospital as they are now doing ambulatory procedures, but it is still not something anyone would look forward to, especially for the second time. These advances were also due to the use of computers and robots during surgery.
It is important to understand that these are Boston products liability cases where the injury is due to the defective design of the hip and they not medical malpractice actions. This is not say doctors cannot be negligent when implanting an artificial hip, but even when a surgeon does everything correctly, as is often the case, there is not a high probability of a successful outcome when the artificial hip itself was defective.
If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers for a free and confidential appointment — (617) 777-7777.
Hip replacement “ticking time-bomb” for “thousands” of Washington patients, November 29, 2017, By Amy Clancy, Kiro 7 News
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