Product Liability

Metal on Metal Hip FAQ

You rely on your hips to ensure mobility across a range of everyday tasks. Over time, it is possible for you to damage one or both of your hips. Damage to your hip may require corrective hip surgery. Hip replacement surgery is a relatively common procedure in the United States. If you or a loved one requires hip replacement surgery, there are a number of alternative solutions available. Metal-on-metal hip implants are one of these solutions.

Why do you need hip replacement surgery?

Damage to the hips can occur for a number of reasons. You may suffer a fracture as a result of a fall or accident, particularly if you are older and less mobile than you once were. Another common reason for hip replacement surgery is arthritis. Twenty-one million adults1 in the United States suffer from arthritis. In 2003, 800,000 people2 had hip or knee replacement surgery.

What are the risks of hip replacement surgery?

Like any other type of surgery, there are a number of potential risks3 from a hip replacement including:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots, such as a pulmonary embolism
  • Infection in the new joint
  • Bone loss or osteolysis
  • Loosening of the new joint, leading to pain and further surgery
  • Wear and tear leading to damage and further corrective surgery
  • An allergic reaction to the parts in the artificial joint

What is a metal-on-metal hip implant?

The hip comprises a ball-and-socket joint. Doctors and surgeons can use a number of different product types for one or both of the parts of an artificial hip replacement. These include ceramic and titanium hip replacements. As the name suggests, in a metal-on-metal hip4 implant, both the ball and socket of the joint are metallic. There are two types of metal-on-metal hip implants: the traditional total hip replacement system and the resurfacing hip system, which makes more use of the original bone.

What are the benefits of a metal-on-metal hip implant?

Metal-on-metal hip implants offer a number of benefits.5 There is less material wear on the implant, when the ball and socket rub against each other. That means that these implants should last longer than other types of devices. There is less likelihood of further corrective surgery in patients with metal-on-metal hip implants. Metal-on-metal hip implants are also larger than other types of devices, which means that they are more stable and less likely to dislocate. These devices are also less likely to fracture.

How safe are metal-on-metal hip implants?

You may be asking how safe a metal-on-metal hip implant is. These devices have unique risks.

When the two metal parts slide against each other, small particles of metal may wear off the device. These particles will drop into the space around the implant. Metal ions from the device can enter the bloodstream. People react to these metal particles in different ways. There is no single rule about how safe metal-on-metal hip implants are. The metal particles around implants can cause damage to the bone or surrounding tissue. This can result in a number of painful side effects, which may eventually result in the need for further surgery.

How soon can problems with metal-on-metal hip implants occur?

Different patients may see some of the side effects of metal-on-metal hip implants sooner than others. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports6 that early failure of these devices is now becoming more common. The FDA launched a Web site dedicated to information about metal-on-metal hip implants in 2011. The FDA issued a new safety communication7 on January 17, 2013, outlining the risks of metal-on-metal hip implants and providing new guidance for surgeons.

Why do you need an attorney?

If you suffer an injury from a metal-on-metal hip implant, you may be able to file a lawsuit. An attorney can help establish whether you are entitled to compensation. He or she can guide you through each stage of filing a lawsuit and ensure that you stand the best chance of success.

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