Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure. More than 285,000 such procedures are performed each year in America.1 If a person has suffered from arthritic hip conditions, hip fractures, joint deterioration2 or other conditions (and medication, changes in life activities and walking supports no longer work), then hip replacement surgery may be recommended by a physician.
What is hip replacement surgery?
There are two types of hip replacement surgery: hip resurfacing or total hip replacement.3 In resurfacing, part of the hip is trimmed and capped. In total hip replacement, diseased or damaged bone is removed and replaced with an artificial joint.4 These artificial joints can be made of metal, plastic, or ceramic. One of the most common total hip replacement implants is a metal-on-metal device. Some doctors believe that hip resurfacing has advantages over total hip replacement, but recognize that hip resurfacing is a more difficult operation.
Conditions that prompt hip replacement surgery
Hip resurfacing and/or total hip replacement surgeries are performed as a treatment of last resort. Conditions or medical problems5 that can prompt the need for hip replacement surgery include but are not limited to:
- Broken or fractured hip
- Childhood hip disease
- Joint deterioration
- Bone tumors
- Avascular necrosis (caused by limited blood supply to hip joint)
- Persistent and severe pain
- Limited mobility
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-traumatic arthritis
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common causes of hip pain and disability are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis.
Even after surgery, a patient could develop problems. Some common hip replacement surgery complications include:
- Blood clots and bleeding
- Hip fracture
- Implant failure
- Nerve damage
- Bone thinning (osteolysis)
Metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and replacement implants
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved nearly 200 metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and total hip replacement implants,6 though some have been linked to complications and side effects. Complications7 include:
- Heart problems
- Auditory or visual impairments
- Neurological problems
- Blood contamination (with metal ions)
- Psychological changes such as depression and cognitive impairment
- Kidney problems
- Neck discomfort
- Weight gain
- Skin rashes
Hip replacement surgeries have been performed since the 1960s and are supposed to be safe and effective, but in some cases they are not.
If you have undergone hip replacement surgery and are experiencing problems, you may be entitled to legal compensation and should speak with a lawyer about the possibility that you have suffered a personal injury due to hip implant failure.