Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Attorney Columbia

The ASR acetabular cup – a component of hip implants – manufactured by DePuy, stayed on the market for only five years. During its time on the market, doctors used 90,000 ASR cups to replace hips for patients. It was only after hundreds of reports of failure and loosening of the ASR cup, warnings by well-known physicians, and an increasing number of lawsuits that DePuy consented to recall its defective product on August 26, 2010.

Following the recall of the defective ASR cup, DePuy employed certain tactics to avoid paying compensation to injured parties. DePuy attempted to reach out to victims before they understood their legal rights. They had some doctors convince patients to sign forms authorizing DePuy to obtain certain information on the patient, plus the ASR cup itself when it was removed.

DePuy’s argument for needing the information and removed hip implant was threefold:

  • First, they needed to determine if the implant was truly a DePuy ASR implant.
  • Second, they claimed they needed to know whether or not to reimburse submitted costs.
  • And third, they had to determine if the revision of the implant was due to a failure of the device or some other incident.

In reality, this argument was a smokescreen; DePuy was trying to avoid paying compensation for their defective medical devices.

How Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Differ

Scientists designed metal-on-metal implants to be better than hip replacements using other materials. A few of these advantages were:

  • Metal-on-metal implants create less material wear from the rubbing of ball and socket.
  • They are less likely to dislocate when the ball slips out of the socket.
  • They have an increased resistance to fracturing.

Metal-on-metal hip implants fall into two types: traditional systems of total hip replacement and systems of resurfacing the hip. The traditional system completely replaces the ball of the femur and socket of the pelvis with metal substitutes. In the resurfacing system, physicians only trim and coat the bones of the ball and socket with a layer of metal but do not replace it.

FDA’s Assessment of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Since the DePuy incident, the FDA has assessed metal-on-metal hip implants more thoroughly. After investigating the benefits and risks of these implants, assessing the implants themselves, and hearing the results of the June 2012 Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Devices Advisory Panel meeting, the FDA determined that this type of hip implant has unique risks beyond those of normal hip implants.

All hip replacement systems pose certain risks, regardless of the type of material used in the implant. These risks include: increased occurrences of hip dislocation, infection of the joint, damage to local nerves, and loosening or breaking of the implant, among other issues. However, physicians have found metal-on-metal implants to pose some unique risks. When users do normal activities (running and walking) the ball and socket of the hip joint rub together, creating tiny particles of the device.

Some of these metal ions will make their way into the bloodstream. It is unknown at this time just how patients may react to these particles. Besides the particles entering the bloodstream, they may also damage the bone or other tissues surrounding the implant. Doctors call this “adverse local tissue reaction” or “adverse reaction to metal debris.” Symptoms of this condition include: pain, loosening of the implant, or failure of the device, possibly leading to the patient needing corrective follow-up surgery.

The lawyers at Discepolo LLP are well versed in the DePuy case and in more recent cases involving metal-on-metal hip implants. If you are considering filing a case involving this type of implant, we will gladly put our knowledge to work for you. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.