Last year, CBS News presented a special report on the dangers of metal-on-metal hip replacement implants.1 Learning of a newly published study in Britain, the news leader reported that patients given metal-on-metal hip implants were at a higher risk of needing a replacement than those using plastic or ceramic hip replacement implants. The study also revealed some alarming complications associated with using metal-on-metal hip replacement implants in surgery.
Metal-on-metal hip replacement surgery
The very first hip replacement surgery in the world took place in 1960.2 The successful surgery opened the door for advances in medical devices and technology. Since that time, medical implant makers have worked to improve the effectiveness of their products. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality states that more than 285,000 surgeries for total hip replacements are performed annually in the United States. And about half a million people needing hip replacement, resurfacing, or revisions have metal-on-metal hip implants. Metal-on-metal hip replacement implants were seen as durable options for people suffering from joint pain, injuries, arthritis, and other joint problems.
Problems and complications from metal-on-metal hip replacement implants
With recalls dating back to 2008,3 the number of metal-on-metal hip replacement implant surgeries has declined. Still, many patients are experiencing complications and need hip replacement revision surgery.
The problems and complications from metal-on-metal hip replacement and resurfacing implants go beyond loss of mobility and implant failure. When metal hips are failing patients, there are specific failure symptoms. There are also dire complications that arise from metal hips failing. Hip cancer, metal poisoning (metal in blood), blood clots,4 nerve damage, bone fracture, organ damage, tissue damage, and even bone loss can occur from using these devices in hip replacement surgery. Problems and complications from metal-on-metal hip replacement and resurfacing implants include these symptoms of failure5:
- Severe pain in leg, groin, or hip (in some cases, linked to hip cancer)
- Loss of mobility or limp
- Severe infection
- Shortness of breath (linked to metal poisoning damage to the heart)
- Chest pain
- Numbness or weakness
- Joint swelling
- Popping, grinding, clicking, or squeaking noises in the hip joint
Whenever a patient has symptoms linked to a metal hip replacement failure, he or she should consider getting medical attention. A physician can discuss future treatment options and assess the level of damage from metal hip implant failures.
Options after metal-on-metal hip replacement implant failures
These failure symptoms occur in metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and replacement surgeries alike and need to be watched and, if serious enough, corrected. One way to monitor some of these problems is to have a patient’s blood tested for metal. Another option is hip replacement revision surgery.6 This surgery could help patients reduce the risks of metal being in the bloodstream, causing metal poisoning, metal hip cancer, and other medical issues.
Hip surgeries are the last option for those suffering from disabling hip pain and stiffness. It is considered when pain medication, walking supports, and physical therapy don’t work; however, in order for hip replacement surgeries to be more successful, patients need safer, more effective implants available.
If you believe you have suffered serious injuries or side effects from a hip replacement implant, a knowledgable personal injury and/or mass tort litigation attorney can help protect your legal rights.