Metal-on-Metal Artificial Hips May Pose Serious Dangers to Patients

By May 14, 2012Product Liability

One of the most commonly used medical devices is the artificial hip, with hundreds of thousands of hip implant procedures performed in this country each year. Designed to provide pain relief, hip function, and an improved quality of life for the patient, the artificial hip implant has undergone increased scrutiny of late due to the questionable safety of the metal-on-metal version of the artificial hip.

The all-metal hip replacement features both the ball and socket made from metal, typically chromium or cobalt. The alternative is an artificial hip made primarily from ceramic or plastic.

In recent years, there have been a growing number of reports of pain and other complications in patients who underwent metal-on-metal hip replacements. When the metal ball and socket rub against each other, tiny particles may wear off and enter surrounding tissue. This can cause the patient pain and require the medical device to be replaced with another costly surgery.

Serious Reactions to Metal-on-Metal Artificial Hips

There also have been reports of traces of metal from the implant entering the patient’s bloodstream and causing serious problems beyond significant pain and swelling, including effects on the nervous system, heart, and thyroid gland. These effects may be manifested by:

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Change in vision or hearing
  • Fatigue and weight gain
  • Change in urination habits

Last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered makers of metal artificial hips to conduct new safety studies. And it has scheduled a meeting of the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel of its Medical Devices Advisory Committee for June 27-28, 2012, to further examine the medical devices. According to the FDA, the purpose of the public meeting is to seek “additional expert scientific and clinical advice on the risks and benefits of these devices so that the agency can continue to make reliable safety recommendations to patients and health care providers.”

Victims of Defective Medical Devices of Legal Right to Pursue Compensation

Most medical devices, like metal-on-metal artificial hips, do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty. But like the victim of any defective consumer product, patients harmed by metal-on-metal hip replacements have the legal right to pursue compensation for their injuries and financial losses.