A hip joint replacement can restore your quality of life, but complications from metal-on-metal implants have left patients with devastating injuries. If you suffered metal poisoning, organ damage, implant failure, or other serious complications after a hip replacement surgery, you may be able to hold the manufacturer of the metal-on-metal joint implant accountable.
Our personal injury attorneys are currently investigating metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits and are here to help you explore your legal options. For a free consultation, give us a call at 866-778-5500 or complete our online form to learn how we can help.
Metal-on-metal implant lawsuits are civil legal actions arising out of injuries a person suffers because of their metal-on-metal joint implant. Through these lawsuits, injured patients can seek financial compensation from the manufacturer of the metal-on-metal implant.
Metal-on-metal implants are hip replacement systems that consist of a metal joint prosthesis. Generally, a metal-on-metal hip prosthesis includes the following components:
Although metal prostheses can be used in other capacities, such as surgical repair of broken bones, the types of metal implants that are prompting the current wave of injury lawsuits are these multi-part hip replacement systems in which the moving metal parts make contact with each other.
During the 2000s, metal implants seemed like a promising method of restoring range of motion and quality of life for patients who had sustained damage or injury to their hip joints. The metals used in the implants were thought to be durable enough to last for years or even decades in the body.
Since then, a different reality has emerged: one in which the patients who underwent hip joint replacement procedures with metal-on-metal implants find themselves suffering from serious complications like organ damage and metal poisoning.
Numerous metal-on-metal implant recalls and lawsuits have raised serious concerns over the safety of metal hip replacement systems.
The contact that occurs between metal to metal hip replacement implants produces friction each time the joint is moved. Over time, this friction may cause small particles of the implant metal to break off inside the body, where they can be dispersed—and cause serious complications.
Are metal-on-metal implants still used? No, and they haven’t been legally marketed for several years now in the United States. However, patients who received one of these implants before they were pulled from the market are still experiencing life-changing complications.
In fact, this potential for complications, as highlighted by the repeated recalls of metal-on-metal implants made by several different manufacturers and the billions of dollars in lawsuit payouts, is the reason metal-on-metal hip implants are no longer used.
By 2012, hip replacement procedures utilizing metal-on-metal implants had become rarer. Although the earliest metal-on-metal hip implant recalls and lawsuits date back to the start of the 2000s, major developments occurred during the end of the decade and throughout the early 2010s. Major companies recalled the medical devices or simply pulled their metal-on-metal implants from the market. High-profile lawsuits against metal-on-metal hip implant manufacturers ended in settlements in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2013, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medical devices in the United States, published in the Federal Register a proposed order that would require the makers of metal-on-metal hip joint systems to file a premarket approval application.
Ultimately, the FDA chose to reclassify metal-on-metal implants as Class III (“higher risk”) medical devices based on “known risks.”
In February 2016, the FDA issued a final order that would require manufacturers to file premarket approval (PMA) applications for metal-on-metal hip implants. “To date, there are no approved PMA applications for metal-on-metal total hip replacements, and these devices are not currently legally marketed,” the FDA reported in March 2019.
The problem with metal-on-metal hip implants is that the friction that occurs as two (or more) pieces of metal move against each other causes tiny particles of metal to break off.
The types of metal that may appear in metal-on-metal hip implants, according to Materials, the journal of the Molecular Diversity Preservation International Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, include the following:
Because the medical problems linked to metal-on-metal implants result from the friction that occurs between moving metal components, these harms aren’t limited only to certain manufacturers. Several major metal-on-metal implant manufacturers have been named as defendants in lawsuits over the complications arising out of metal-on-metal implants.
The largest metal-on-metal implant manufacturers include the following:
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The most common metal-on-metal hip implant problems include pain and swelling of the surrounding tissues, hip replacement implant failure, metallosis, and organ damage. Often, complications of metal-on-metal hip replacement necessitate another surgery to remove and replace the implant.
All hip replacement surgeries pose a risk of side effects, such as infections, bone loss, fractures, joint location, and loosening. However, metal-on-metal implants pose “unique risks,” the FDA reported.
Symptoms and side effects that may indicate metal-on-metal hip replacement complications include:
What’s truly scary is that people don’t always have noticeable symptoms of metal poisoning or organ damage. Routine blood tests have shown worryingly high levels of metal ions in the bloodstream of individuals who have metal-on-metal implants, even when they have no symptoms.
When a metal-on-metal implant affects the areas of the body immediately surrounding the hip joint, this is called a local reaction or, more formally, an “adverse local tissue reaction.”
Most commonly, patients suffering from a local reaction to metal-on-metal implants experience symptoms like pain and swelling. The damage that occurs in a local reaction may affect both bone and tissue.
This damage can be extensive and may progress over time unless the implant is removed. Unfortunately, the FDA reported that local reactions can affect soft tissue and bone quality severely enough to make a successful revision surgery “more difficult.”
The wear and tear that occurs due to the friction between metal components of the joint replacement system may also damage the implant itself. The prosthetic joint may loosen, leading to metal-on-metal hip replacement failure.
Symptoms of metal-on-metal hip replacement failure include increases in audible sounds like clicking, popping, or squeaking of the hip joint, as well as pain and feelings of instability in the joint. To restore mobility, the patient will need to undergo surgery to replace the failed implant with a new joint replacement system.
Can metal implants cause metal poisoning? In the case of metal-on-metal hip joint replacement systems, yes. The friction that results from contact between the moving metal components can cause tiny particles of metal to break off from the implant and become dispersed throughout the body.
When the movement of metal components against each other causes wear and tear on the implant, microscopic particles of chrome, cobalt, or other metals can build up in the joint, enter the bloodstream and eventually wind up deposited in the soft tissues of the body. This condition of abnormal levels of metals building up in the soft tissues and bones is a form of metal poisoning called metallosis.
Metallosis can cause significant damage to the local bones, nerves, and muscles surrounding the implant, as well as to numerous organs the body relies upon to function properly. Symptoms like thickening of the blood, skin rashes, audible clicking and other sounds from the hip joint, and hearing and visual impairments can result from metallosis.
This form of metal poisoning may also cause cognitive impairments. “We found neurocognitive and depressive deficits after cobalt and chromium metallosis following [metal-on-metal] implant failure,” researchers reported in a 2017 article published in the journal BioMed Central Psychiatry. These neurocognitive abnormalities include depressed mood characteristic of moderate to severe depression and deficits in cognitive functioning consistent with early-onset dementia, including disorientation, deficits in short-term memory and concentration, and difficulty finding words.
The neurocognitive deficits researchers identified in patients presenting with metal-on-metal hip implant failure “might be mediated by either static brain damage caused by chromium and cobalt toxicity or could represent a dynamic process, that is an early onset dementia triggered by metallosis,” researchers said. In either case, researchers concluded that a link existed between the complications caused by metal-on-metal implants and the development of neurocognitive abnormalities and deficits.
One of the most alarming complications that can arise when metal ions and particles that wear off of a metal hip implant enter the bloodstream is the potential damage to organs.
Cardiac conditions, or heart problems, that can result from metal particles making their way through the bloodstream and into the heart include heart irregularities, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and other forms of heart disease.
When these metal particles affect the kidneys, it can result in renal function impairment, including kidney failure.
Metal particles can harm the thyroid gland, leading to thyroid dysfunction. High levels of metal in your bloodstream can also affect the brain and may even change the structure of the brain, researchers reported in the BioMed Central Psychiatry article.
Treating Metal-on-Metal Implant Complications With Revision Surgery
Should metal implants be removed? Unfortunately, if the prosthetic hip replacement system has failed due to wear and tear or given rise to complications like metallosis, organ damage, a pseudotumor, or pain and swelling of the nearby tissues, you may not have much choice. The only option to prevent further harm and mitigate the damage that has already been done may be to remove and replace the implant with an alternative hip replacement system.
Hip replacement revision surgery is an invasive procedure. You must once again undergo the pain and challenges of physical recovery from hip replacement surgery, which may take weeks or even months. The procedure also carries risks, among which the FDA named unfavorable reactions to anesthesia, infections, bleeding, blood clots, and post-revision hip dislocation.
There’s also the cost to consider. Hip replacement surgeries, in general, cost tens of thousands of dollars. Even if you have health insurance, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket medical bills for the surgery itself, as well as pre-surgical testing, medications, follow-up appointments, and physical therapy.
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You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for the harm caused by a metal-on-metal hip implant. Through a lawsuit, you can hold the medical device manufacturer accountable for these medical expenses, your lost wages, the pain and suffering this ordeal has put you through, and any lingering health problems associated with the metal-on-metal implant.
In a lawsuit seeking metal-on-metal hip replacement compensation, you can pursue a payout that covers both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include all harms and losses for which a dollar amount can be calculated or projected, such as the medical bills you have incurred, future medical expenses, and lost wages. Non-economic damages include the pain and suffering you have been through because of the harm you suffered.
At this time, metal-on-metal implant lawsuits are moving forward on behalf of individuals who suffered injuries from their prosthetic joints. Your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment (or treatment plan) are relevant in determining whether you have the grounds for a claim and how much your claim may be worth.
If you have any symptoms of metal-on-metal hip replacement problems, you need to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment plan in place is crucial not only to the success of your legal claim but also for mitigating the health issues that can result from having a metal-on-metal implant.
Even if you have no symptoms, you should be monitored closely by your medical team. This monitoring may include regular blood tests, clinical evaluations, and other tests to detect any abnormalities that could indicate complications.
Lawsuits are now moving forward against the manufacturers of metal-on-metal implants. Patients affected by complications have already received payouts—some of which have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars or even a billion dollars.
If you’re ready to take a closer look at your legal options, here’s what you need to know.
Strict legal deadlines apply to cases like metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits under laws known as statutes of limitations. While the exact deadline that will apply to your claim depends on factors like which state you live in, it’s in your best interests to take action as soon as possible. Waiting to begin your claim could only weaken your case or put you at risk of missing legal deadlines entirely.
The defective medical device attorneys at Console & Associates handle claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means it will cost you nothing upfront to secure experienced professional legal representation. The consultation and initial case review are completely free and confidential. If you decide to move forward with your claim and hire us to represent you, we will advance all litigation costs. You pay nothing unless and until we recover compensation for you, and you will only ever owe a fraction of the settlement or jury award we get you.
Pursuing a claim doesn’t have to add to your financial burden. You just focus on recovery—we’ll handle everything else at no upfront cost.
The serious complications that arise from metal-on-metal hip implants can affect every part of your life. You deserve the full amount of compensation you need to get your life back on track and afford the best possible medical care. At Console & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are ready to fight for you.