Since the first hip replacement was performed in 1960, patients have been relying on this operation to restore their mobility and independence. Hip replacement surgeries have become increasingly popular over the years, with more patients getting implants at a younger age. In fact, more than 300,000 of these surgeries are performed each year in the U.S. alone, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Unfortunately, many of these patients have sustained serious complications as a result of the defective design of certain hip implants. If you or a loved one has a hip implant, you should be aware of the potential signs of complications so that you can bring them to the attention of a doctor promptly.
Signs of metallosis
Metal-on-metal (MoM) hip implants consist of two main parts: a ball and cup made from metal and intended to mimic the structure of a natural ball and socket joint. MoM implants were designed to be more durable than ceramic or polyethylene implants; however, they have actually been proven to have higher premature failure rates. One of the ways in which a MoM implant can fail is by causing metallosis, or metal poisoning.
As the hip joint moves, its metal components rub against each other, releasing tiny metal particles into nearby tissues and the blood. These metal particles, which include chromium, cobalt, nickel, and titanium, can inflame nearby tissues and accumulate within the bloodstream. The localized symptoms of metallosis can include pain in the hip or groin, weakness, swelling, and numbness. Additionally, patients may have trouble walking properly.
When the metal particles build up in the bloodstream, patients may suffer from heart problems, including heart failure. Other possible signs include the following:
- Thyroid problems
- Nerve damage, including peripheral neuropathy
- Tinnitus or hearing loss
- Skin rashes
- Cognitive impairment, including brain fog
- Visual impairments, including vision loss
- Depression, anxiety, and other changes in mental state
Signs of osteolysis
Another possible complication caused by the shedding of metal ions from the MoM hip implants is osteolysis. Osteolysis refers to bone loss. In a 2016 edition of the journal Biomaterials, researchers demonstrated that it is possible for metal ions from metal hip implants to reach the bone marrow. Here, they can adversely affect the mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells are responsible for transforming into osteoblasts, which is the cell necessary for bone mineralization, or the creation of new bone mass.
When the metal ions adversely affect the mesenchymal stem cells, and the bone cannot remineralize itself, bone loss can result. Osteolysis results in the loosening of the implant. This can be indicated by symptoms such as worsening joint pain, weakness, and stiffness.
Showard Law Firm: Protecting the rights of injured patients
If you believe your health complications could have been caused by a defective hip implant, you can explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit to secure compensation for your injuries and losses. Showard Law Firm has been representing victims of defective medical devices since 1990. We are committed to resolving your legal matter and working toward maximum compensation on your behalf. Call our law firm to request a free consultation.
Additional resources for hip implant patients
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Total Hip Replacement, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-hip-replacement/
- S. Food and Drug Administration, Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Systems, https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/metal-metal-hip-implants/metal-metal-hip-implant-systems
- Science Daily, Hip implants: Metal wear impairs bone-forming cells’ function, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622105800.htm