Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hip Implant Not Giving You Problems?

If you have a hip implant or if you know someone who has had a hip replacement, the following information may be helpful to you regardless of whether the hip implant is causing you problems or injuries today.

Hip Implant Recall
One year ago, Johnson & Johnson recalled a hip implant it manufactures under the DePuy Orthopaedics label. It turns out the DePuy ASR hip implant system is faulty. It is a metal-on-metal (“MOM”) product that began being implanted in 2003. At first, DePuy marketed the hip as new technology that was the “Rolls Royce” of hip implants – it was designed to be implanted in a younger, more active population for long-term use.
Timeline of the Recall 
After only a couple years of use, problems with the device began to surface. The first reports of problems appeared in 2005. In 2007, DePuy began pulling some of its systems off the market in Australia due to widely-publicized problems, but it stayed on the market in the United States. In 2009, DePuy began a “silent recall” which involved decreasing sales and pulling some of its inventory from the market. On July 17, 2010, DePuy finally issued an official recall of the ASR Acetabular implants, more than 5 years after the problems began.
Problems with Design 
As it turns out, the device was very poorly designed. The shallow nature of the cup is different than other MOM devices in two primary ways that have caused problems:
  1. It causes excessive heat and friction between the metal cup and the metal ball; and
  2. The size, design and location of the resurfacing cup are three important factors that relate to the release of metal ions in the body. The design at issue here increases friction at multiple contact points between the femoral head and the acetabular cup. 
Injuries to Patients
The problems with the implant have required revision surgeries where the patient has to have the DePuy system removed and a new system put in. Some of the common symptoms and difficulties associated with the DePuy recalled product include:
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Crunching or popping noises
  • Hip fractures or dislocation
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Tissue and muscle infection and necrosis (which is tissue death)
  • Cobalt and Chromium Toxicity also known as Metalosis
  • Severe Pain
  • Dislocation
  • Loss of muscle mass
Metalosis is a common problem caused by metallic particles being released into surrounding tissue and into the bloodstream. The excessive heat and friction between the metal cup and the metal ball creates these metallic particles. The friction results in ions of chromium and cobalt being released into the body. As a result, patients are experiencing Aseptic Lymphocytic Vasculitis Associated Lesions (“ALVAL”) from heavy metal toxicity. Symptoms of metalosis include:
  • Swelling in and around the implant site
  • Spontaneous dislocation of the hip
  • Nerve palsy
  • Noticeable mass or rash
  • Groin or thigh pain
  • Fatigue
  • Intense pain in the hip
The long-term injuries from metalosis include:
  • Damage to the tissue and muscle surrounding the prosthesis, including necrosis
  • Bone deterioration (may be progressive)
  • Infection
  • Possibly cancerous
No Problems Yet?
Many people who have had problems with their hips have had a hip replacement or revision surgery. However, many people who have the faulty product may not be currently experiencing problems with the device and they may not be aware that they need to act now to preserve their potential claims for a future revision surgery. Here’s why:
In these types of cases involving massive produce recalls affecting thousands of people, the manufacturer will enter into an agreement that stops the clock from running out on people who have been affected. What this does is allow people who don’t realize they are affected to be able to proceed at a later time when they realize they need to do something. Unfortunately DePuy and Johnson & Johnson have not done this and it looks like they are not going to. That means that people in Georgia (and other states that have only a 2 year statute of limitations) who have these faulty hip implants but have not yet experienced symptoms of pain or needed a hip revision surgery or who do not yet have high levels of cobalt and chromium toxicity will still be required to act no later than August of 2012 or lose their ability to pursue a claim against the manufacturer.
What You Need To Do
Because the deadline will most likely be August of 2012, anyone who has a hip implant (even if you have not had any adverse effects) needs to do the following:
  1. Contact their surgeon to determine what type of implant they have
  2. Get an appointment to have diagnostic testing performed to determine if your implant is injuring you
  3. Do NOT sign a release from the surgeon or DePuy or Johnson & Johnson
  4. Consider keeping a journal of the problems and treatment related to the hip implant
  5. Contact an attorney that handles the DePuy cases for a free consultation as soon as possible
Please feel free to contact one of our hip implant recall attorneys for more information. Danny Studstill is located in South Georgia near Tifton and Valdosta. Haynes Studstill is located in Middle Georgia in Macon. We would be happy to speak with you and help you determine if you need to take action.

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