TV Ads Note Growing Metal Hip Implant Litigation
The commercial you saw may have mentioned several brand names in particular:
- DePuy Synthes
- Smith & Nephew
Alongside Johnson & Johnson, two of the international corporation’s subsidiaries, Stryker and DePuy Synthes, have come under fire over alleged product defects. Likewise, London-based Smith & Nephew has been hailed into US federal court with claims of failing to warn the public of a hip implant’s alleged risks.
Stryker, Depuy Synthes & Smith & Nephew
Some commercials go even deeper, mentioning these devices by name. In the case of DePuy Synthes, over 8,000 lawsuits claim the company’s Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants lead to severe side effects, from various forms of metal poisoning to early device fractures that force patients back into the hospital for invasive revision surgeries.
But a growing number of lawsuits also say Stryker’s’s LFIT V40 Femoral Head, an implant component recalled in 2016, is unreasonably dangerous. As Stryker now acknowledges, the component is linked to an unacceptably high rate of premature failure. And in a similar litigation, British medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew is facing more than 200 lawsuits related to the company’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System.
Thus the legal community is now handling three separate litigations involving hip replacement products. Stryker, DePuy Synthes and Smith & Nephew have all been called into court over claims of poor product design, insufficient testing and inadequate warnings. And, at the core of these growing legal battles are three specific hip implant devices:
- LFIT V40 Femoral Head (Stryker)
- Pinnacle Hip System (DePuy Synthes)
- Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System (Smith & Nephew)
What do all of these replacement products have in common? They’re all metal-on-metal implants. And that’s one of the main reasons why injured patients are filing suit.
The Risks Of Metal-On-Metal Hip Replacement
While metal-on-metal replacement devices were introduced as a revolutionary technology, medical researchers, doctors and national health regulators have been quick to note their unique risks. As the US Food & Drug Administration writes,
“Metal-on-metal hip implants have the same adverse effects as other types of hip implants, including infection, loosening, bone loss, device or bone fracture, and joint dislocation.
In addition, metal particles from a metal-on-metal implant may cause a reaction around the joint, leading to deterioration of the tissue around the joint, loosening of the implant and failure of the device. Metal ions from a metal-on-metal implant will enter the bloodstream. There are case reports in which patients with metal-on-metal hip implants may have developed an adverse reaction to these metal ions and experienced medical problems that could have been related to their implants.”
This summary from the FDA does a good job of surveying the general issue, but probably downplays the problem a bit.
How Do Metallosis & Metal Poisoning Work?
The medical condition referred to here is known as metallosis and, while the diagnosis is still controversial, many physicians now believe that hip implants with metal components can release debris, including metal particles, when they rub together. After being released, these particles can build up in the body’s soft tissues and, beyond compromising the implant’s integrity and longevity, cause severe side effects:
- pain around the implant site
- pseudotumors (non-cancerous masses of inflamed tissue)
- skin rash (a symptom of necrosis, or cellular death, under the skin)
A prime contributor to this phenomenon is cobalt, a metal used in the manufacture of the devices we’ve been discussing.
Cobalt – Chromium Devices
Stryker’s LFIT V40 Femoral Head is made from an alloy of cobalt and chromium. So is the Pinnacle implant manufactured by DePuy Synthes. And so too is the Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing system. All three devices are made from a combination of cobalt and chromium, two metals that German researchers, in a 2006 article for Acta Orthopaedica, say “have been shown to be carcinogenic and mutagenic in animal and human models.”
Neurocognitive & Systemic Side Effects
The problem of metallosis, however, isn’t confined to the site of implantation. An increasing number of medical reports suggest that metal-on-metal implants can release metal ions into the bloodstream, leading to a range of debilitating systemic effects. Physicians have reported a host of strange symptoms linked to cobalt and chromium toxicity.
In a 2017 article in BioMed Central Psychiatry, three psychiatrists from the United Kingdom described ten patients who had developed cognitive and mental problems after undergoing a hip revision procedure for a failed metal-on-metal implant. Blood tests in nine of the patients showed toxic levels of both cobalt and chromium; all nine of these people had developed clinically-diagnosable depression. Seven were experiencing short-term memory impairment.
Other studies have found even wider-ranging effects, from heart muscle diseases to sensory disturbances and thyroid impairment.
Premature Implant Failure
An even more acute issue, though, forms the core of most metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits. In thousands of legal claims, patients say their devices failed prematurely.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, around 80% of hip implants are still working well after twenty years. But in lawsuit after lawsuit, we’ve heard from patients who receive a replacement only for the device to fracture, loosen or lead to symptoms that could only be cured with a revision procedure within the first decade. Some patients have had even worse luck, with an implant lasting only a year or two.
Explore Your Options In A Free Consultation
The hip implant lawsuit commercials running on local stations right now are produced by various law firms. While our own attorneys don’t produce TV ads, we are committed to providing injured patients and their families with the most up-to-date legal information.
Did you or a loved one undergo a hip revision surgery after suffering from the side effects of metal poisoning? Were you implanted with a hip replacement that failed too soon? Our experienced lawyers can help. Learn more about your legal rights and options in a free consultation today. Some patients may be eligible to secure significant financial compensation. A number of plaintiffs have already been awarded damages ranging into the millions of dollars. And you can find more information about case eligibility at no cost and no obligation. Just call our lawyers or fill out of contact form now.