Hip Replacement Metallosis

Metallosis is a serious complication which can result from hip replacement surgery. Metalllosis occurs when metal fragments or ions are released into joint spaces or taken up by the blood stream resulting in local or systemic metal poisoning, usually requiring hip revision surgery.

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Is it Safe to Have a Hip Replacement?

metal on metal hip

Hip replacement operations are common, more so when a person grows older. Though it’s possible a hip replacement will increase mobility and allow someone to enjoy a better quality of life, there are risks involved.

One of the most common risks for those who have had hip replacement surgery is metallosis. This is a rare problem that occurs when metal debris builds up in the body’s soft tissue. You can have a hip replacement without metallosis, but the risk is much higher for those who have devices with metal parts. The more metal there is in a device the higher the risk, so fully metal devices feature a very high risk for metallosis.

If metal hip replacements are dangerous, why were they used?

Metal hip replacements were used because makers of these devices believed them to be more durable. Many believed they were ideal for younger people in need of hip replacements because they would need devices that lasted longer than older patients. It was also believed these devices would perform better for recipients who were more active. Sadly, this was not the case and the metal-on-metal devices put through rigorous activity broke down faster and created greater risk than other options.

These devices feature metal-on-metal parts, which means the socket and the femur replacement are both made of metal. They are made from many types of metal, such as titanium, cobalt, and chromium, all of which can be toxic. As a person moves and the joint device moves, the metal surfaces rub against one another. Over time, this friction causes the metal to wear down and tiny bits of debris are released into the person’s body.

In studies done to test the presence of metal near the implants in a person’s body, metal levels were found to be very high. One study compared metal levels at the time the implant was placed versus levels a decade after placement. Levels of titanium, cobalt, and chromium levels were three times as high as they were prior to placement.

Metallosis Symptoms

People with hip replacement devices made from metal are at risk for toxic metal poison. The exposure to metal debris is known to cause a wide range of symptoms, all of which can be a sign of a severe health issue.

If you notice any of the following, contact your doctor:

  • Severe pain near the joint implant
  • Graying of the skin in the area near the implant
  • Feeling of looseness in the joint
  • Swelling near the joint

It’s also possible metallosis can cause bone deterioration. If you suspect your implant might be failing, your doctor can order a test that will check for damage to the bone near the implant.

There are also several psychological symptoms linked to metallosis. These include:

  • Dizzy feeling
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Decreased thinking skills
  • Nervous system issues

Filing a Metallosis Lawsuit

Metallosis is a severe health issue and can lead to life-long medical problems. In many cases, the problems could have been avoided had the makers of metal-on-metal hip implant devices realized the risks connected to their product. Some believe makers of implants did know the danger and failed to alert patients and doctors to the risk. Others believe the products were not tested enough before they were approved for market.

There have been many lawsuits filed against makers of metal-on-metal hip implants. Those with implants had life-changing medical problems and were forced to undergo risky follow-up surgeries to repair or replace their implants. If you or a loved one has a metal-on-metal hip implant, you might be able to get money from the maker of your device. If you have suffered any side effects that might be linked to metallosis, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.

Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA. 

View Sources

  • Gross, TP, and TF Liu. “Incidence of adverse wear reactions in hip resurfacing arthroplasty: a single surgeon series of 2,600 cases..” Hip International. 3.23 (2013): 250-8. Web. 16 Jun. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23760745
  • Levine, BR, and AR Hsu. “Ten-year outcome of serum metal ion levels after primary total hip arthroplasty: a concise follow-up of a previous report*..”Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 95.6 (2013): 512-8. Web. 16 Jun. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23515985
  • Sharma, OP, and J Lochab. “Severe metallosis leading to femoral head perforation.” Orthopedics. 36.2 (2013): 241-3. Print. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23383625

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