Affected by a defective hip implant?by Charles Houssiere (Houssiere Durant & Houssiere L.L.P.)
A total hip replacement is a serious surgery which will require months of recovery. Patients should only decide performing such a medical intervention when they can no longer have a normal life due to hip pain and discomfort. If the hip pain is strong enough to keep a patient awake during the night, to prevent him from performing everyday activities like standing up or claiming the stairs, or if the pain persists despite different therapies, a hip implant might be the right choice. Other factors to consider are age, general health and bone density, so the final decision will belong to a surgeon.
The natural hip is ball and socket joint. The rounded bone at the top of the femur fits into the socket called the acetabulum. To move the hip, the head of the femur rotates within the acetabulum. If that movement causes constant pain and difficulty to move, it will be replaced during a hip implant surgery. A total hip implant consists in the removal of the affected bone area and in the introduction of a medical device similar with the natural hip. The purpose of every hip implant is to allow movement without pain and offer a wider range of motion than the affected hip would. In normal conditions after the implant the new device should work properly for around 15 years. Considering that most of the patients have an older age by the time they require a hip implant, the device is designated so that a second surgery wouldn’t be needed. Unfortunately things don’t always work out the way they should.
Patients implanted with a certain type of hip replacement started noticing problems within the first five years after surgery. They were using a type of device called metal-on-metal hip replacement, which means that both the top of the femur and the acetabulum were made of metal. As the metal parts were rubbing against each other small particles of metal were released into the surrounding tissues. Although the particles are very small and many patients never realize they exist, some individuals have negative reactions towards them. They can notice pain, swelling in the hip area and difficulty walking. If the debris particles reach the blood stream, they can also affect the nervous system, different organs and muscles. Some studies reveal the fact that they can also be the cause of certain types of cancer. Another problem related to this type of hip implant is that the components can become loose, affecting the muscles and bones in the area and causing even fractures.
The device in question was manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics and it is an ASR™ XL Acetabular System. It was approved in 2003 and since then implanted to more than 90,000 patients. Considering that 13 percent of the patients who had the device implanted reported problems within the first five years, in 2010 the manufacturing company decided to withdraw the product from the market.
The consequences of a defective hip implant are severe. In most of the cases patients will need a second surgery to replace the defective device. This surgery is even more painful than the first one and the recovery time is longer. Besides that patients will be unable to perform basic movements during recovery period, meaning for several months, so they will be unable to work and will have additional losses. That is why it is essential for all individuals affected by a defective hip implant to contact a product liability lawyer as soon as they notice the first worrying symptoms. In order to file a defective hip implant lawsuit early legal assistance will be needed. Medical device manufacturing companies are usually not willing to offer compensation to patients even if they admitted that their device was defective by withdrawing it. Besides that they always afford the best defense lawyers. So in order to file efficient claims, the plaintiff’s attorney will have to investigate the details of the case and have access to medical records. As soon as an injured patient is assisted by a lawyer more evidence can be gathered and a stronger case can be built. So if you were unlucky enough to be implanted with a defective medical device do not hesitate in asking for professional support.