Hip Implant Lawsuit

Hip implants that were thought to be more durable and longer-lasting failed due to defects that resulted in repeated surgeries, pain, and high medical costs to those who had the devices implanted.

Hip Implant
Last Updated: July 16, 2020

Hip Implant Lawsuits

There were over 100,000 hip replacement injuries reported in 2017 related to metal-on-metal hip implants. Originally, these implants were thought to be a more durable alternative to ceramic implants which could be damaged by a fall or impact. They were also promoted as a longer-lasting implant that would resist the wear and tear of plastic or ceramic parts.

Unfortunately, these predictions and claims were wrong. Not only did the metal-on-metal hip replacements fail earlier than anticipated, but their wear and tear produced particles of chromium, cobalt, and other metals that found their way into the bloodstreams of patients.

These complications would provide unprecedented pain and suffering to the patients who had the devices implanted. Patients who thought they were getting a new chance to walk, stand, and perform other basic lower-body tasks.

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Hip Implant Litigation

Hip replacements were intended to be a semi-permanent solution to the problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteonecrosis. However, some manufacturers saw these conditions as a lucrative market to push dangerous devices. 

Metal-on-metal implants have been a scourge for those who have received them. Rather than replacing them once or twice in their lifetime, they have instead been subjected to revision and replacement surgeries as the device designed to let them continue to live their lives instead caused pain and suffering far outweighing the damage of their original condition. 

These products have cost patients their mobility, their health, and financial hardship as damages were amended through costly surgeries. For some of these patients, these devices cost them their very lives. For those patients and families hurt or killed by these unsafe devices, litigation may ease their undue financial burdens.

Hip Implant Lawsuit
Hip Implant Lawsuits

Hip Implant Lawyer

If you are considering taking legal action because of your hip implant injury it is important you find an experienced lawyer with many years of knowledge and practice in this specific type of product liability.

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Types of Hip Injuries

Not all hip replacement injuries are equally debilitating. Some of the more common hip replacement injuries can include:

  • Stiffness
  • Inflammation around the joints
  • Fluid collections
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Blood vessel injury
  • Fractures
  • Leg-length inequality
  • Nerve injury
  • Device loosening
  • Device dislocation
Hip Implant Lawsuits
Types of Hip Injuries

Hip Implant Implant Recalls

One of the main reasons some implant devices were recalled was due to Metallosis. Metal-on-metal implants were sold as more durable, longer-lasting implants to doctors, but patients receiving them experienced the injuries associated with traditional implant complications, and long-term metallosis as their implant leaked heavy metals into their blood.

If the hip replacement injury is caught quickly, these injuries can be corrected. Some injuries are due to the failure of the device. Particularly concerning the loosening or dislocation of the device can become dangerous if not checked. If the device does not bond to the bone properly, then a number of complications can occur as the body tries to reposition the device. If the device is severely dislocated, further procedures may be required. Some other complications can include:

  • Tissues damage
  • Blood vessel constriction or compressions,
  • Infection
  • Bone growth beyond normal edges of the bone
  • Revision surgery
  • Osteolysis
  • Metallosis

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Defective Hip Implants

A hip replacement is a modern medical marvel. Modern hip replacements are billed as a near-miraculous way to allow patients to retain the use of a leg that in centuries past would have been immovable. Unfortunately, FDA approval loopholes and unwise design decisions have resulted in a wave of hip replacement injuries that can be every bit as debilitating as the original issue that necessitated the replacement.

With hundreds of thousands of hip replacements being performed to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteonecrosis, it is important that patients understand the benefits and risks of these devices.

Implant Failure

In particular, metallosis can be a fatal complication for patients with a hip replacement. In general, metallosis is the term to give to metal poisoning in the blood. Typical causes include exposure to heavy metals in an environment, and the use of metals in natural remedies. Metallosis is also the cause of the hip replacement injuries that led to metal-on-metal hip implants being banned from sale.

By grinding the metal ball against the metal socket, the hip replacement unleashes a stream of metal particles into the surrounding tissue and bloodstream. This soon led to metallosis and an array of symptoms including:

  • Bone and tissue death
  • Implant failure
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Loss of cognitive functioning
  • Loss of tissue
  • Nervous system damage
  • Bone destruction

Additional symptoms can include loss of vision, heart failure, and thyroid function impairment. Although polyethylene implants could cause some of the bone and tissue damage over time, the dangers of metal-on-metal implants have been unprecedented.

Recalls Due to Failure Some of the metal-on-metal hip implants that have been recalled or removed from sale include:  
  • Stryker LFIT V40 femoral head
  • Smith & Nephew’s BHR and R3 hips
  • Stryker’s Tritanium Acetabular Shells
  • DePuy’s Pinnacle hips
  • DePuy ASR Hip Replacements
Hip Implant
Hip Implant Surgery

Types of Hip Implant Surgeries

There are a wide variety of hip replacement surgeries performed on patients today. Each replacement removes some defunct part of the natural ball-and-socket hip joint and installs an artificial part to serve as a replacement. Hip replacements come in three forms, each escalating in terms of changes to the body: hip resurfacing, partial hip replacement, and total hip replacement. 

These replacements can be done either bilaterally, in which both hips are replaced at once, or in stages, first one hip then the other. Typically staged hip replacements are considered to be safer since the body can adapt over a longer period of time and loses less blood in the individual procedures. Bilateral surgeries are associated with slower recovery times since there is one large surgery, but they also carry more risks in the performance of the operation. 

All hip replacement surgeries are designed to relieve pain and discomfort from the use of the hip. A hip resurfacing is when a surgeon removes damaged cartilage that is causing the pain and resurfaces the ball joint in metal to prevent additional wear. This is the least invasive procedure as only a small part of the patient’s body is replaced, just the head of the femur joint and the surface of their joint.

The next most radical surgery is known as the partial hip replacement. In a partial hip replacement, the hip socket is unaffected, but the femur head that forms the ball of the joint is completely replaced with a ceramic or metal head. This type of replacement is most often performed after a hip fracture.

The most altering of hip replacement surgeries is also the most common: total hip replacement. In a total hip replacement, parts of the femur and hip are replaced with metal or ceramic parts. The ball of the femur is substituted in a manner similar to a partial hip replacement and the hip socket is replaced with an artificial cup.

Because total hip replacements are the most common type of hip replacement, it is no surprise that most hip replacement injuries arise from this class of replacement. What is shown to be the deciding factor in whether a hip replacement is more likely to cause complications is the materials used in the hip replacement.

Hip Implant Materials

In general, there are five different types of hip replacements: metal-on-metal, metal-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-ceramic, and ceramic-on-polyethylene. All of these implants carry their own set of risks and benefits, but certain material combinations have resulted in far more hip replacement injuries than others.

Ceramic Hip Implant Problems

Ceramic implants come in several varieties. Ceramic-on-ceramic hip replacements are touted for their high survival rates. At the SICOT XXV Triennial World Congress in 2011,  Dr. Laurent Sedel presented a study that found that only 9% of patients with ceramic-on-ceramic hip replacements suffered failures related to materials. The most common failures included loosening of the ceramic hip lining and fracturing of the material.

The same year, the FDA approved one of two ceramic hybrid devices: ceramic-on-metal hip replacements. The ceramic head of the replacement rests on a metal lining within the hip. Due to the recency of its approval, the full complication risks are not known.

The other ceramic hybrid hip replacement is the ceramic-on-polyethylene hip replacement. This hip replacement features a ceramic head in a polyethylene cup. Due to the plastic makeup of polyethylene, there are issues of bone degradation and plastic contamination associated with the long term use of this type of implant.

Metal Hip Implant Problems Metal implants have had a number of hip replacement injuries reported since their approval. The most common of the metal implant types is the metal-on-polyethylene hip replacement. First approved in the 1960s, these implants have a 60-year history of use, though not without a few drawbacks. 

As with ceramic-on-polyethylene implants, the wear of the implant on the plastics can cause plastic debris to leak into the body. Additionally, the metal-on-plastic wear can escalate to the point of failure in the hip replacement. Despite these drawbacks, metal-on-polyethylene are actually the safer of the two metal hip replacements.

Metal-on-metal hip replacements are the most dangerous of the five hip replacement types. The sheer number of hip replacement injuries caused by this device led to its removal from sale in the United States. These metal ball-and-socket devices lead to a number of health complications and have resulted in the very design of these devices being called into question for their risks to patient health and safety.

The Difference Between Mass Tort & Class Action Lawsuits

Most people are familiar with the definition of a class-action lawsuit. In essence, it involves a large group of people pursuing a single claim after suffering the same financial or physical harm. This means that it’s run as an individual case for a group of plaintiffs who will be treated as a single entity. 

A mass tort lawsuit is somewhat different from a class action. One of the major differences is that Mass tort lawsuits treat each individual plaintiff as a separate plaintiff as opposed to a member of a larger lawsuit.  It is still a group action taken against a company or person, but individuals in the case will often have varying circumstances and the injuries will usually have different levels of severity and because of this the settlement awarded will be different for each individual case.

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