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DePuy hip implants: Why they fail, and how it can harm you

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2010 | Drug & Medical Device Injuries |

If you are experiencing pain or suffering from a defective medical device,  it’s wise to consult an attorney. For answers about legal issues in this article or with your own malfunctioning medical product, call me directly for help – Lawrence Egerton, 336-273-0508, or e-mail me at [email protected].

Have you had a Johnson & Johnson/DePuy hip replacement implant in the past few years? These devices have a 1 in 8 chance of failing, which would require you to have additional surgery, called “revision” surgery. Revisions are more complicated and costly than primary joint replacements because surgeons have less bone and more scar tissue to work with.

This can be a life-changing event surrounded by serious health issues and expenses. It is a good idea to seek the counsel of an expert hip-replacement attorney.

But what exactly are these devices, and why do they fail?

This hip prosthetic is made by DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It is a large, metal-on-metal, ball-and-socket joint. The socket of the joint, called an acetabular cup, is made out of cobalt chrome. One intended advantage was that the metal-on-metal design would be stronger than earlier designs such as metal-on-polyethelene. In the U.S. the trend has been for hip replacement patients to be younger and more active, requiring devices that will wear longer.

However, the grinding of metal-on-metal releases cobalt and chrome ions. These microscopic particles disperse and accumulate in nearby parts of the body, and also flow through the bloodstream.

When these ions or metal particles settle, they can infiltrate organs and tissues. They can produce local irritation or even create large cysts. Some surgeons say they have discovered these cysts during revision surgery, and that the cysts sometimes break open and leak out their contents during the operation.

This raises other serious medical questions. The cobalt and chrome ions that are released into the lubricating fluid that surrounds joints may be carcinogenic. To date, there is no clear medical literature to establish what, if any, effect these potentially cancer-causing substances may have upon the human body. But chronic exposure to metals has be been shown to be carcinogenic in laboratory animals.

For an indepth look at materials used in hip replacement devices, read this report by doctors in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The following articles I have written can inform you on issues including:

Another article describes problems suffered by a patient who underwent revision surgery just 10 months after her first surgery.

These articles by The New York Times and Bloomberg may provide more information.

I cannot stress enough – it is vital to educate yourself about your situation. A failed implant can cause severe problems:

  • Loosening, when the implant does not stay attached to the bone in the right position
  • Fracture, where the bone around the implant may have broken
  • Dislocation where the two parts of the implant that move against each other are no longer aligned

Finding out that a device that has been implanted in your body is now being recalled is a scary thing. And along with the mental anxiety, you may have suffered pain, diminished physical well-being, lost wages and other injuries. The attorneys of the Egerton Law firm can help you through this trying time.

Has your life been disrupted by problems with a malfunctioning medical product? Do you or someone you know need the advice of a lawyer specializing in defective medical devices? You can get help at the Egerton Law website. The Egerton Law firm and its personal injury attorneys want to help you. Call us at 336-273-0508. E-mail us at [email protected]

Facts about the Egerton Law firm:

• We have built a tradition of helping injured people and their families since the firm was established in 1956.

• We have handled cases in North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, New York, the District of Columbia, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and U.S. District Court. We have fought cases all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

• Our team of lawyers are dedicated to fighting insurance companies and corporate giants that seek to increase their bottom line at the expense of injured people.

Are you being:

• Pressured to agree to reimbursement for “reasonable” or “out-of-pocket” medical expenses?

• Pressured to sign document you don’t understand? (Don’t sign anything without consulting us.)

• Told to submit bills for medical services to your insurance company or Medicare, and you will be reimbursed later?

Take action and help us to help you. Call or email: 336-273-0508[email protected]. We can advise you on whether you have a case and the process for getting medical care. You will always speak to an attorney on your first call.