Millions of people have hip replacement surgery each year. Replacement is often necessary when arthritis or injury leads to pain, discomfort, and limited mobility. During surgery, an artificial replacement hip (prosthesis) is inserted and fitted to replace the original hip. Replacement hips can differ in design, but typically consist of:
- a socket attached to the pelvis
- a ball replacing the femoral head, connecting the socket to the stem
- a liner between the socket and the ball allowing for smooth hip movement
- a stem attached to the femur (thigh bone)
Over the last decade, some replacement hips have been manufactured using metal. Problems with these metal components have been at the center of recent hip recalls and lawsuits.
Q:Why are some replacement hips being recalled?
Some replacement hips have metal components that cause problems. During hip movement, the ball slides against the replacement socket where the pelvis and femur meet. The resulting friction between these metal components can cause metal particles to flake off and be released into the body. Other replacement hip models have seen the metal stem corrode and fret, causing a similar flaking of metal particles.
The high failure rate of some of these replacement hip models (approaching 50% by some estimates) first drew attention to the problem. As a result, a number of popular metal-on-metal replacement hips have been recalled in recent years. Defective replacement hips generally must be repaired or replaced. As a result, patients often must undergo total hip revision. During revision surgery, the defective hip is removed and replaced with a new, safer model. These surgeries can often lead to additional medical problems.
Q: Which replacement hip models are part of a hip recall?
A number of models have been recalled by manufacturers or withdrawn from the market. These include:
- Stryker Orthopedics’ Rejuvenate Modular
- Stryker Orthopedics’ ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stem
- Stryker Orthopedics’ Trident Hip Implant
- Depuy’s ASR XL Acetabular Hip System
- Depuy’s ASR Hip Resurfacing System
- Smith & Nephew Orthopedicss’ R3 Acetabular System
- Zimmer’s Durom Acetabular Component
The Food and Drug Administration’s website keeps a partial list of hip recalls. A doctor will have more specific information for a particular patient.
Q: What are some injuries resulting from a bad replacement hip?
The metal particles from a defective replacement hip can affect surrounding tissue – a condition known as metallosis. Metallosis can cause pain, swelling, tissue reactions, and other problems. In more serious cases, metal debris may get into the blood stream and affect other parts of the body. A bad replacement hip can also lead to the same problems that led to the first hip replacement surgery. This can include pain, limited mobility, and other issues.
Q: What are some common symptoms?
Pain and swelling around the hip and decreased mobility are the most frequent symptoms. Many people do not experience any symptoms, but are still affected. Doctors will be able to determine if a particular patient’s replacement hip has been recalled or needs to be replaced.
Q: Can the manufacturers be sued?
Yes. Manufacturers generally have a duty to ensure that their products are free from dangerous defects. When people are injured from a defective product, the manufacturer may be liable under product liability law.
The law protects consumers from dangerous products in different ways. People may sue when products are unreasonably dangerous due to defective design and when defective warnings fail to state some risks of harm in using a product. The law differs from state to state and can be more complex. If successful, patients may receive compensation for medical costs, lost wages from time off work, and pain and suffering. An attorney can provide specific information about your legal options.
Q: Are other people suing?
Yes. Tens of thousands of patients have filed lawsuits against hip manufacturers. Depuy recalled 93,000 replacement hips worldwide and 37,000 in the United States. Over 10,000 lawsuits have consequently been filed. There are so many lawsuits that cases filed in federal court against DePuy and Stryker Orthopedics have been consolidated to help courts manage the load. Many cases have been settled out of court, but a few have gone to trial. In one case, a patient was awarded millions of dollars in damages.
Q: I think I may have a bad replacement hip. What should I do next?
Contact your doctor to determine if your implant was part of a hip recall. If you do have a defective replacement hip, you should immediately contact an attorney. Timely action can be important in filing a lawsuit.