Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Linked to Cobalt Poisoning

Metal-on-Metal hip implants may be associated with cobalt poisoning, among other serious complications. The recalled DePuy ASR hip replacement is one of several metal-on-metal hip implants that have been on the US market. Other metal-on-metal hip implant devices include Biomet’s M2a Metal Hip, Wright Medical’s CONSERVE Total Hip System, and Zimmer Orthopedics’ Metasul.

DePuy Cobalt PoisoningA metal-on-metal hip implant is made of cobalt and chromium, and consists of a cup that is implanted into the hip with a ball joint that is connected to the leg. According to a New York Times report published in March 2010, metal-on-metal hip replacements have been used in about one-third of the approximately 250,000 hip replacement operations performed annually in this country. However, many of the nation’s leading orthopaedic surgeons have reduced or stopped using these devices because of concerns that they can cause severe tissue and bone damage. According to the NY Times, studies in recent years indicate that in some cases the devices can quickly begin to wear, generating high volumes of metallic debris that is absorbed into a patient’s body.

Arthroprosthetic cobaltism is a type of cobalt poisoning which results from the wearing of metal-on-metal hip implants. If left untreated, cobaltism can result in ringing in the ears (tinnitus), deafness, blindness, vertigo, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism.

A recent article published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery has linked metal-on-metal hip implants to cobalt poisoning. The article describes two patients from Alaska who received DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implants and went on to develop the condition. Both were “fit, well, forty-nine-year-old men at the time of metal-on-metal arthroplasty with ASR implants,” it stated in the article. Two years after the hip implantation, the patients in the study experienced even more symptoms of cobaltism, which can include irritability, fatigue, headaches, loss of coordination, tinnitus, hearing loss, headaches, cognitive decline, and depression.

Hip replacement patients should be relatively pain-free three months after surgery. If you experience any new pain or increase in pain at that point you should promptly communicate it to your surgeon, as it may indicate a complication. Signs that you may be the victim of a failed metal-on-metal hip implant include:

• Swelling, extreme pain & discomfort
• Dislocation of the implant
• Clicking, popping or grinding
• Loosening of the implant
• Unexplained hip pain
• Thigh pain or groin pain
• Pain with walking
• Pain rising from a seated position
• Pain with weight bearing

Probably, you will have to undergo special blood tests to indicate the level of toxic substances in your body. If found don’t procrastinate with filing a cobalt lawsuit against defective device’s manufacturer. Our law firm deals with such cases, we can assert your leagl rights toady.

In August 2010, DePuy issued a global recall of the ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur. The recall was issued after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it. A hip implant should last for approximately 15 years. DePuy now recommends that implant patients have a blood test to check for high levels of chromium and cobalt.

Since the recall, around 150 lawsuits have been filed against DePuy by victims of the ASR hip implant, and many more such suits are expected. Last week, all federal lawsuits involving the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Ohio.