Metal-on-Metal Medical Device Fails, Crippling Patients

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Defective Products on Thursday, March 15, 2012

A metal-on-metal hip replacement manufactured by DePuy Orthopadeics is failing sooner than expected. The hip has problems, including loosening of the hip and tissue inflammation around the hip. In some cases, the hip dislocates. In other cases, increased metal particles were found in the bloodstream. Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against DePuy and its parent company Johnson & Johnson because the medical device has failed to work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also ordered the manufacturers of the hip to study the safety of the metal-on-metal hip implants.

An orthopedic surgeon said that doctors need more data on the hips, and that they still are a viable option. He also said that the hip problems are a mystery. Several types of metal-on-metal hips have no problems, but because of the problems with certain metal-on-metal hips, doctors are using them less than hips made from other materials.

The hip replacement was introduced in the 1960s. The chairman of orthopedic surgery at a major medical center, who is also a professor, stated that the hip replacement has allowed a person that would be in pain for the rest of his or her life to have a normal life. He said that about 400,000 people per year in the United States have hip replacements. He also stated that Medicare spends about $20 billion per year on implanted medical devices, including a large number of hip replacements.

The professor and chairman also stated that hips should last about 10 to 15 years, and that surgeons are always looking for hip replacements that last longer. Three different types of hip replacements currently exist: a ceramic-coated ball in a ceramic cup, a metal ball that fits into a polyethylene cup and a metal ball that fits into a metal cup.

DePuy recalled the ASR hip in August 2010 in a voluntary recall. The company recommends that any patient with a metal-on-metal hip have his or her doctor evaluate the hip.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Artificial hip brings only pain,” James Walsh, March 12, 2012

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