Hip replacement surgery using metal-on-metal implants is very common. While more than 285,000 total hip replacement surgeries are performed annually in the United States,1 it is reported that about 10 percent of these procedures fail and require revision.2 Metal-on-metal hip revision surgery, like other hip repair surgeries, is a complicated procedure and should be considered carefully.
When is metal-on-metal hip revision surgery needed?
Revision hip replacement surgery is recommended for people who have had partial or total hip replacement surgery and are experiencing complications.3 Total hip replacement protocols should be monitored. These protocols are more important in light of potential device fractures, hip dislocations, and implant failures.
Metal-on-metal implants, the most common implants used, have a number of serious complications that prompt revision surgery. These problems and complications from metal-on-metal hip replacement and resurfacing surgery include4:
- Implant or device fracture
- Severe pain in leg, groin, or hip
- Hip dislocation (or implant loosening)
- Loss of or impaired mobility
- Severe infection
- Nerve damage (numbness/weakness)
- Joint swelling
- Popping, grinding, clicking, or squeaking noises in hip joint
Hip repair/revision surgery and risks
Hip replacement revision surgery is more complicated that initial total or partial hip replacement protocols because during the revision surgery, the surgeon is removing and either repairing or replacing the old hip implant. In the process of removing the old implant, bone may need to be cut. If there are complications such as infection, follow-up procedures may be necessary before replacing the old implant. In extreme cases, rebuilding the damage bone may require grafts and wires. And these hip surgeries come with risks including:
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Wound infections
- Heart attack
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
Metal-on-metal hip implant recalls
Since 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued recalls5 of and warnings6 for some metal-on-metal hip implants. Of the more than 190 FDA-approved hip resurfacing and replacement implants to date, only a few devices have been affected by recalls. Recalled metal devices include:
- Stryker Rejuvenate modular-neck stems (component)7
- Stryker ABG II modular-neck stems (component)
- Zimmer Durom Cup (acetabular component)
- Johnson and Johnson’s DePuy ASR TM XL (acetabular system)
- Smith and Nephew R3 metal liners (acetabular system)
Reasons for the recalls range from implant corrosion, inadequate surgery instructions, and higher-than-estimated corrective surgeries following use of the implant. Problems from the metal-on-metal implants specifically include but are not limited to:8
- Hip dislocation
- Bone fracture
- Device fracture
- Metal poisoning (metal in blood and joints)
- Bone loss (osteolysis)
- Tissue damage and necrosis
Faulty implants are more common than they should be, and hip replacement patients have suffered from unanticipated complications. Designed to improve quality of life, some metal-on-metal implants make things worse and may require additional hip repairs and revision surgeries.
Anyone who has suffered from a faulty metal-on-metal hip replacement implant has legal rights. Consulting an attorney who understands the complex issues about metal-on-metal hip replacement implants could help an injured patient understand his or her legal rights and remedies.