Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants and Metallosis
Metal poisoning occurs when toxic levels of metal build up in the body causing damage to tissues, bones, and the nervous system. One type of metal poisoning, called metallosis, can occur as a side effect of joint replacement surgery using metal components such as those in metal-on-metal hip implants. Medical device manufacturers like Smith & Nephew, Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker began releasing metal-on-metal hip implants in 2006. Since that time, thousands of individuals have experienced the debilitating side effects of metallosis, caused by a product that was supposed to help restore their quality of life.
The risk of metallosis facing users of metal-on-metal hip implants arises due to two distinct aspects of the device: the material and the mechanics. Metal-on-metal hip implants are made primarily of two metals, cobalt and chromium. During everyday activities such as walking or bending over, the components of an implant rub against each other causing friction. This friction wears away microscopic particles of cobalt and chromium debris, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream and surrounding tissue. The metal debris can lead to a number of serious complications to the nervous system and organs, including cognitive impairment, heart failure, infection, and implant loosening. It may also cause damage to bone, tissue, and muscle, typically in the area surrounding the device.
If a patient experiences metallosis symptoms, a simple blood test can diagnose the condition. The results of the blood test will reveal the level of metal ions in the blood. Concentrations of cobalt in the blood higher than 1 microgram per liter signify metallosis, while concentrations of chromium higher than 5 micrograms per liter are also indicative of metal poisoning. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, the most effective form of treatment is revision surgery. In most cases, a revision requires replacing the entire metal-on-metal device with a ceramic-on-metal or plastic-on-metal implant, and cleaning the affected area. This removes the source of the metal buildup and allows the levels of cobalt and chromium to decrease over time.
Manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants ignored the serious risk of Metallosis caused by their defectively designed products. Our experienced lawyers fight for individuals who have been harmed by the negligence of the manufacturers of these dangerous devices. If you or a loved one has been injured or required revision surgery following a metal-on-metal hip implant or other defective hip device, the attorneys at the Yost Legal Group will investigate your potential claim and lawsuit. For a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-YOSTLAW.