Metal on Metal Hip Replacements Linked to Serious Neurological Side Effects

A 2017 Health Watch study reported that elevated blood metal levels from metal-on-metal hip replacements are toxic to the brain. The findings of this research confirm an alarming and previously unknown risk of metal-on-metal hip replacements known as Arthroplasty Cobalt Encephalopathy (ACE).  This condition includes a number of serious neurological side effects, including mood swings, tremors, fatigue, balance issues, vision and hearing loss, as well as other cognitive problems.

Since the introduction of metal-on-metal hip implants to the marketplace, doctors and patients have discovered the harm they cause by increasing metal levels found in the human body. Most complications with metal hip implants are caused by high metal levels in a patient’s bloodstream, which doctors diagnose as metallosis. This condition occurs when the cobalt-chromium components of the hip implant grind together, breaking off metal fibers that are then released into the body. These metal fragments migrate through the bloodstream and reach the brain, causing ACE.

In general, doctors diagnose ACE by using blood tests and PET scans. However, diagnosing the link between a metal-on-metal hip replacement and cognitive decline associated with ACE can prove challenging. First, although the onset of neurological symptoms can be an early indicator of elevated metal levels in the blood, the diagnosis of ACE can be easily overlooked, as early neurological evaluations do not typically include a blood panel analysis. Moreover, even if blood tests are conducted as part of a neurological evaluation, studies show ACE presents in patients with levels below the range normally associated with a metallosis diagnosis.  Additionally, another difficulty in diagnosing ACE exists for older patients. Although not related to age, ACE symptoms such as memory loss and tremors can be too easily labeled as dementia. If an older metal-on-metal hip implant patient experiences ACE caused neurological changes, they may be overlooked and misdiagnosed as part of the aging process. As a result, the importance of monitoring blood metal levels in metal-on-metal hip replacement patients is absolutely critical.

Manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacements ignored the risks of introducing dangerous metal alloys into the human body. Because of these defective products, many individuals have experienced serious and harmful neurological side effects. Our product liability lawyers seek justice for people whose everyday lives have been affected by these unsafe medical devices. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a metal-on-metal hip implant, you may be entitled to compensation. For a FREE and confidential consultation, call the Yost Legal Group at 1-800-YOST-LAW (1-800-967-8529).