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Metal-on-Metal Hips

Devices from Stryker, BioMet, DePuy, and Wright are the subject of major lawsuits.

The Illinois Plaintiff’s lawyers has been involved with representing clients with metal-on-metal hips for over six years now, and was at the forefront of the DePuy ASR litigation in Illinois.  The litigation landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years.  The first major change was when DePuy, a subsidiary of the mighty Johnson & Johnson, recalled its very popular ASR metal on metal hip in August of 2010.  After the initial recall, long-time critics of metal on metal hips from all over the world began to report very high failure rates.  The Australian Hip and Joint Registry, for example had been monitoring ASR failure rates for years and was an early critic of the device.  Surgeons in the United Kingdom, and across Europe have begun to stop using metal on metal hips altogether and in some cases have urged the governments within Europe to actually ban the devices.  The scrutiny in Europe was not followed in the United States where metal on metal hips were widely used until 2011-2012.

In March 2012, a study published in the Lancet found that metal-on-metal hip implants were significantly more likely to fail compared to other models of hip implants which generally used a ceramic or polyurethane liner inside the cup.   British researchers looked at data from 400,000 people who had a hip replacement, of which 31,000 had a metal-on-metal design.

They found the following rates of failure:

  • 6.2% failure rate in metal-on-metal design
  • 2.3% failure rate in ceramic-on-ceramic design
  • 1.7% failure rate in metal-on-plastic design

The doctors that performed the study found that the metal-on-metal design had significantly higher risks, but no additional benefit. For this reason the group responsible for the study recommended that the devices be banned.

The New York Times reported the problems with metal on metal hips as have local papers such as the Champaign County News Gazette in Central Illinois.  In fact Central Illinois was hit hard by the use of metal on metal hips from medical institutions from Champaign-Urbana, to Gibson City, to LaSalle Peru.  According to the New York times article, nearly 1/3 of the 250,000 hips implanted each year were metal on metal.

Finally, after considering the media outcry and the urging of those in the medical community, the FDA issued a Safety Notice on metal hips on January 17, 2013.

In March 2012, a study published in the Lancet found that metal-on-metal hip implants were significantly more likely to fail compared to other models of hip implants which generally used a ceramic or polyurethane liner inside the cup.   British researchers looked at data from 400,000 people who had a hip replacement, of which 31,000 had a metal-on-metal design.

They found the following rates of failure:

  • 6.2% failure rate in metal-on-metal design
  • 2.3% failure rate in ceramic-on-ceramic design
  • 1.7% failure rate in metal-on-plastic design

The experts concluded that the metal-on-metal design had significantly higher risks, but no additional benefit. They are recommending that health authorities ban this dangerous medical device.

The Basic Timeline tracing the downfall of Metal on Metal hips is as follows:

March 11, 2013 – A jury in Los Angeles, California state court has awarded more than $8.3 million to Loren Kransky, the first plaintiff to see his ASR hip implant lawsuit go to trial. The award includes $8 million for pain and suffering and $338,000 for expenses. DePuy faces approximately 10,750 more ASR hip implant lawsuits. Click here to read more.

January 17, 2013 – The FDA has published a Safety Communication to warn that metal-on-metal hip implants can shed toxic metal particles that can cause soft tissue damage. The agency has also updated recommendations for orthopedic surgeons. Click here to read more.

December 6, 2012 – More than 3,200 DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits have been filed in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) located in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Click here to read more.

December 5, 2012 – A South Carolina man has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Biomet M2A Magnum hip implant is defective. Click here to read more.

October 3, 2012 — A federal judicial panel has centralized Biomet M2A Magnum hip implant lawsuits into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)  in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, before Judge Robert L. Miller. Nearly 70 pending lawsuits will be transferred to the court. Click here to read more.

September 24, 2012 – Australian health authorities recommend regular blood tests for everyone with a metal-on-metal hip implant.  This group has been following these hips for years.

August 2012 – Stryker has recalled two modular-neck hip implants, the Rejuvenate and ABG II for much the same reason as the DePuy ASR.

August 2010- DePuy and Johnson & Johnson recall the DePuy ASR metal on metal hip starting the recall wave.

Damages from Metal on Metal Hips are Severe and May Often Require Revision Surgery

The main way that metal hips fail is by a deterioration of the connective tissue around the hip.  The deterioration results from the release of heavy metal ions, specifically chromium and cobalt, into the bloodstream near the site of the implant.    This process is known as metallosis.  This process causes pain, clicking, popping, and squeaking in the hip joint and will eventually lead to failure and likely revision.  Additionally, the metal ions can have a systemic impact on the body as well attacking vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, and the central nervous system.  These impacts have been know since 1975.

Hip failure and revisions surgeries are painful and expensive. This can lead to missed work and lost wages, and even the loss of employment since Illinois is an at will employment state.  Furthermore, individuals with metal hips must undergo metal ion testing frequently to ensure that the levels are normal.  This is expensive and inconvenient.

Most Medical Device Companies have Metal on Metal Hips

Metal hips were supposed to be a revolution in the implant industry.  They ended up being the fox in the hen house.  The problem is that most manufacturers rushed to market with metal devices to maximize profits with the following devices:

If you or a loved on have a metal on metal hip, contact an experienced attorney to seek the compensation you deserve.

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