Have you or a loved one suffered from defective metal-on-metal hip replacements?

As far back as 1995, medical experts began warning manufacturers of artificial hips that there were real dangers associated with metal-on-metal hips. These included toxicity, inflammation, bone loss, local tumor formation and systemic effects. Nevertheless, manufacturers steamed full steam ahead in manufacturing and marketing these hips.

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As we see with the marketing of drugs and other medical devices, the manufacturers often employ celebrities to pitch their products. Interestingly, two of the celebrity spokespersons who promoted metal on metal hips are now suing the companies for the products they once endorsed.

  • Jimmy Connors, the famous tennis player, promoted Wright Medical metal-on-metal hips and had two replacements. Both have failed and he has had bilateral revisions. He is actively litigating his case against them.
  • The famous gymnast, Mary Lou Retton endorsed Biomet metal-on-metal hips. She had one and now is suing Biomet.

It has been estimated that over one million metal on metal hips were implanted in the United States from 21 medical device manufacturers. In addition, there are an addition 500,000 modular stem/neck implants. The damage caused by these metal on metal hips led to the need for revision surgery for hundreds of thousands of patients who would not otherwise have needed a revision surgery. Revision surgery can be very ugly. Oftentimes, the stem is implanted in the femur and in order to remove the stem, the femur has to be broken (controlled osteotomy). Also, the metallosis can cause tissue destruction and can, therefore, cause instability. Complications of revision surgery include infection, the need for additional revision surgery, muscle damage, and complications of osteotomy. Many patients received these metal on metal hips and went on to develop metallosis, hardware failure and such. There have been several mass tort actions filed against manufacturers of metal on metal hips. This is where the litigation stands now.

  • Wright Medical
  • Stryker
  • Biomet
  • DePuy
  • Zimmer

That’s 4.4 billion dollars…..40,000 claims. But, now that many of these lawsuits have been resolved, are patients now safe? I wish I could say YES, but the metal on metal hip problems are far from over. One of the questions clients most often ask is what is the long-term health consequence of having elevated metal levels in the body? Unfortunately, the state of medicine at this point is that we really don’t know. The other question I get asked, is IS IT TOO LATE? Of course, the statute of limitations is an analysis that must be conducted on a case by case basis. However, the discovery rule applies in many of these cases meaning. You may have had a hip for a while, but had no problems. In case such as this, your statute of limitations may not begin to run until you have a test which shows an elevated metal level, or positive MARS MRI or recommendation for revision surgery. Now, a new problem has emerged. This particular metal hip is the OMNIlife science Apex K2 Modular Hip System. Like many other metal-on-metal hips, these particular implants are evidencing problems with corrosion and fretting, causing the need for very invasive and painful revision surgery. The hips were studied in a prestigious medical journal, The Journal of Arthroplasty where the authors studied explanted hips and found evidence of “crevice corrosion”, “greeny deposits adjacent to the point of pin insertion”, and other metal related pathology. Similar to other metal on metal hip products, the patient can experience premature failure, loosening, fretting, corrosion, migration or a combination thereof. These hips are still on the market in the U.S. today. There has been no recall at this time. However, the Australian equivalent of the FDA retracted their approval of the Apex K2 in their country because of the unacceptably high failure rates of the device. We continue to be concerned about the unacceptably high failure rate of metal on metal hips and we encourage any patient with complications from a metal-on-metal hip to contact us. We would be happy to investigate your particular situation to determine if you may have unwittingly received a defective hip.

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