Wright Medical Hip Replacement

Wright Medical is a global medical device company focusing on orthopedic solutions. Initially established in Memphis, Tennessee, the company’s international headquarters is now based in the United Kingdom. Wright Medical was formerly an industry leader in the manufacture of hip replacement products. However, several of their hip replacement devices have caused the need for a high number of required revision surgeries. Complications from these products have been the basis for lawsuits against the company.

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Who Is Wright Medical?

Wright Medical is a global leader in musculoskeletal care products, with sales operations in over 65 countries. Founded in 1950 by Frank O Wright, Wright Medical was a small medical supply company primarily devoted to prosthetic and orthotic products based in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Today, Wright Medical Group is a global medical device company specializing in extremity surgery, biologics, joint replacement, and trauma devices for treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. Its primary focus is orthopedic solutions for arms, hands, feet, and ankles.

In 2013, Wright Medical sold its renowned hip and knee replacement division for $290 million amid reported complications regarding their metal-on-metal hip replacement products. In 2020, a fellow orthopedic manufacturing company, Stryker Corporation, purchased Wright.

What Products Does Wright Medical Make?

Wright Medical’s product catalog contains a vast array of products ranging from wound care to orthopedic and sports medicine products. Previously among the Wright Medical products were knee and hip replacement devices. 

What Are Wright Medical Hip Replacement Products?

Wright Medical manufactures multiple hip replacement products serving different reconstruction purposes, including:

  • Tissue-Sparing Techniques
  • Resurfacing Systems
  • Hard Bearing Acetabulum Systems
  • Acetabular Systems
  • Femoral Stems
  • Revision Systems

What Is a Hip Replacement?

Hip Arthroplasty, or hip replacement surgery, is a straightforward procedure performed to improve the joint’s function and reduce pain caused by disease or damage. A specialized orthopedic surgeon will replace portions of the damaged hip with artificial parts that imitate natural movements. 

Depending on individual needs, hip replacement may include replacing only part of the joint or the entire joint and adjacent components for total hip replacements. With this process in place, patients can return to their everyday activities without experiencing any discomfort from their hips, enabling enhanced mobility and quality of life.

What Is the History of Hip Replacement Surgery?

Since ancient times, degenerative hip disease has been a human ailment. Yet, prior to modern medical advances of today that allow for surgical repair, this condition was typically treated through assistive devices such as crutches – ultimately leading an individual into immobility.

What Were Historical Hip Replacement Solutions?

As early as the 1700s, surgeons began attempting to heal hips by removing diseased sections of bone. This method persisted until roughly the mid-20th century when more modern techniques were developed.

How did Hip Replacement Change During Industrialization?

By the 1840s, medical professionals started searching for alternative materials to insert between joint surfaces – from wood and fat tissue. This ultimately resulted in the development of the initial replacement joint composed of ivory fastened with metal screws.

As time passed, physicians kept exploring different materials to coat joints to find an effective solution to decrease pain and improve flexibility. Ultimately, their efforts paid off by the early 1900s when they discovered a successful technique for restoring joint health.

What Advancements Occurred for Modern Hip Replacements? 

In the early 1950s, studies suggested that replacing portions of bone instead of merely concealing them would lead to more successful results. Thus began an era where the joint could be replaced with materials designed for effective treatment, and this paved the way for modern hip replacement technology as we know it today.

Over the last few decades, thanks to advanced research and technology, hip repair surgery has become increasingly minimally invasive using biocompatible materials. Nowadays, it is one of the most widespread orthopedic surgeries available.

What Are Common Products for Hip Replacement?

When it comes to manufacturing prosthetics that fit the existing bone structure, metal is typically used.

The metals most often utilized for this purpose include:

  • titanium alloys
  • stainless steel
  • high-strength alloys
  • alumina
  • zirconia
  • zirconia toughened alumina

Not only metals but ceramics and plastics may also be used in joint construction. However, due to possible issues with metal-on-metal surfaces, surgeons generally avoid them when performing hip replacements. To that end, the FDA issued a proclamation in 2016 requiring all metal-on-metal devices to receive its approval before they can be sold on the market – none have been approved since this ruling came into effect.

Medical professionals rely on two primary methods to securely affix a new bone piece to an existing one: cemented replacements that use adhesive or glue and uncemented ones with porous surfaces so the natural bone can grow onto it. Since healing through the latter option necessitates time for growth and restricted movement during recovery, doctors may opt for either system singly or combine them both.

Popular hip replacement product providers include:

  • Wright Medical Group, now a subsidiary of Stryker Corporation
  • DePuy Synthes, a division of Johnson & Johnson
  • Zimmer Biomet
  • Stryker Orthopaedics, a division of Stryker Corporation
  • Smith & Nephew, Inc.

When Would Someone Need a Hip Replacement?

In the beginning, therapy for degenerative joint diseases is designed to manage pain and other indications associated with these conditions. Treatment often utilizes steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, narcotics, and local injections to relieve the discomfort.

If your current level of pain, mobility, and joint function significantly affect your health and lifestyle, then your doctor may recommend surgery.

First, they will recommend trying other treatments such as:

  • pain medications,
  • physical therapy and exercise,
  • activity changes that will limit strain on the hip joint,
  • use of assistive devices like a cane, crutch, or walker.

For those that don’t experience the desired results of non-surgical treatment or those whose health permits it, your doctor may suggest surgery as a potential option. You can decide with your physician what’s best for you based on specific circumstances and risks.

What Diseases Could Damage the Hip Joints?

When all other treatments fail, total hip replacement is the final solution to restore mobility for those experiencing certain degenerative joint diseases such as:

  • osteoarthritis caused by an antigen-antibody reaction
  • traumatic arthritis resulting from inflammation after trauma
  • avascular necrosis due to circulation disruption
  • fused joints because of inflammatory scarring or any other explanation
  • slipped capital epiphysis induced by shear stress
  • fractured pelvis
  • diastrophic dysplasia. 

Cancerous tumors in the hip region can also be treated with a successful total hip replacement.

What Do Hip Replacement Devices Treat?

Hip elements come in all shapes and sizes and are used to treat a vivid range of diseases, injuries, or other medical issues, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune attack)
  • Arthritis secondary to a variety of diseases and anomalies
  • Congenital dysplasia
  • Treatments of non-union
  • Femoral neck fracture (trauma)
  • Fractures of the trochanter of the femur, along with head involvement
  • Fracture-dislocation of the hip
  • Correction of deformity

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a debilitating condition that afflicts the joints with swelling and tenderness. It takes on various forms, all linked to its common cause: joint inflammation. Physical symptoms such as pain and stiffness in the affected areas may intensify if left untreated.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a widespread affliction that occurs when the protective cartilage that normally cushions and separates our bones deteriorates. Affecting millions, this form of arthritis poses an especially threatening health hazard because it can lead to bone damage and intense pain if not properly managed.

Which Joints Are Most Commonly Affected by Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is common in the hips, knees, spine, and hands but can affect virtually any joint of the body.

What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Those suffering from osteoarthritis may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • bone spurs
  • grating sensations when joints move
  • swelling, and tenderness in the area affected by joint pain and stiffness

Additionally, such individuals can expect reduced flexibility associated with their condition.

What Are the Risks of Hip Replacement?

Despite being a standard procedure, hip replacement comes with some inherent risks both prior to and after the operation.

These include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • blood clots
  • change in leg length
  • nerve damage
  • bone fracture
  • pain or stiffness
  • dislocation of the joint
  • loosening or wear of the artificial joint
  • unrelieved joint pain
  • embolism
  • second replacement surgery due to complications, malfunction, or wearing down of replacement pieces

What Are the Signs of a Failing Hip Replacement?

Although hip replacement surgery has made significant advancements and is now a highly successful operation, it can fail occasionally.

Some examples of how these procedures may not always be effective include:

  • injuries sustained during the procedure
  • damage to or premature wearing down of manufactured products used in the process
  • loosening of implants from bones due to lack of stability
  • bone loss caused by instability post-surgery
  • infections at the site which cause further deterioration over time
  • product malfunctions stemming from manufacturer errors 

Be aware of the following signs that your hip replacement may be failing:

  • damaged bone
  • persistent joint pain
  • restricted movement and range-of-motion
  • difficulty walking or standing up straight
  • instability in the artificial joint area
  • potential dislocation

What Is the Wright Medical Conserve System?

The Wright Medical Conserve system was developed with young, active individuals in mind.

The system consists of multiple products including:

  • Conserve Femoral Surface Replacement
  • Conserve Total Hip System with BFH Technology
  • Conserve Total A-CLASS Advanced Metal with BFH Technology

What Is the Conserve Femoral Surface Replacement?

The Conserve Femoral Surface Replacement is designed for young patients who have previously experienced femoral head osteonecrosis. Its tapered stem supplies ideal alignment, and the cobalt-chromium head creates an articular surface for normal joint motility yet enhanced stability. 

What Is the Conserve Total Hip System with BFH Technology?

This apparatus was crafted to mirror the natural hip joint, comprising an acetabular cup and femoral head with cemented or cementless stem. Highly polished Cobalt Chromium surfaces encompass both articular surfaces without any liner in between them. Studies indicate that a large femoral head may reduce dislocation risk while permitting earlier return to activities after surgery.

What Is an Acetabular Cup?

An acetabular cup component is specially designed to satisfy primary and revision hip surgery requirements with an improved porous ingrowth surface, a secure locking mechanism, and compatibility with polyethylene, metal, or ceramic liners.

A cup offers a remarkable variety of options, supporting varying femoral head surface product types while accommodating larger cups for an increased range of motion. An acetabular system also allows surgeons to choose from several materials according to their patient’s needs. 

What Are the Important Features of an Acetabular Cup?

The modern-day acetabular cup possesses a range of advantageous features, including:

  • the capacity to hold larger femoral heads for increased movement
  • the neck shape and the liner complement each other to create peak performance
  • liners that evenly surround the head from all angles minimize the chance of dislocated joints or damaged nerves

What Is a Liner?

The liner is a boundary between the hip head and the acetabular cup. To be effective, it must possess resilience, durability, corrosion resistance, and adequate space for the femur’s head to fit perfectly inside its confines. Liners are also engineered to allow repositioning during surgery.

What Is the Conserve Total A-CLASS Advanced Metal with BFH Technology?

The Conserve Total A-CLASS advanced metal product was engineered with the intention to decrease device wear 10-fold. As a result, this A-CLASS product was proposed to be superior to all other products because of a 68% reduction in the lifetime wear of the implant. In addition, due to the reduced wear of the product materials, the device was intended to provide a reduction of metal ions released into the bloodstream, which is often seen in metal-on-metal implant devices.

What Is the Wright Medical Profemur Z Hip Stem?

The Profemur Z hip stem product was created to offer minimally invasive surgery, resulting in brief post-operative downtime and fast recovery. Its thin rectangular shape offered a higher resistance to tension, improved stability, reliable fixation, and rotational stability. It had six interchangeable neck pieces of differing lengths, allowing doctors to provide a perfect fit regardless of the procedure’s difficulty level.

Did the Wright Medical Hip Replacement Devices Cause Side Effects?

The devastating results of the metal-on-metal design of these products caused many patients to suffer debilitating side effects such as pain, metallosis, and even the need for revision surgery due to device failure.

Did the Wright Medical Hip Replacement Devices Cause Pain in Patients?

Pain is a frequent outcome of hip replacement surgery, particularly in younger patients. Nearly 20% report post-operative pain around the implant site. This discomfort usually comes accompanied by redness, tenderness, swelling, and warmth – all signs of inflammation.

What Is Metallosis?

Metallosis, caused by friction-induced abrasion of metals, is an accumulation of metallic particles, resulting in elevated concentrations of metals found within the bloodstream. A recent study revealed that nearly all subjects experienced extreme metallosis after a decade of having a metal-on-metal implant, proving its substantial risk over the long term. Additionally, when using a larger cup size, the chance of developing metallosis becomes more substantial.

When Is Revision Surgery Due to Device Failure Needed?

Revision surgery can be an unavoidable necessity due to a range of problems, including mechanical failure, infection, and recurrent hip dislocation. Unfortunately, the procedure is often riskier than its predecessor; it may even cause further harm to the implantation site.

Which Wright Medical Hip Replacement Devices Have Been Recalled?

Wright Medical did not face any recalls required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its hip replacement devices. However, upon purchase of the hip and knee replacement manufacturing division of Wright Medical, MicroPort-the new owner of the products, initiated a recall of the Profemur Z products based on reports of device failure.

Were Metal Components Responsible for Failures?

Wright Medical hip implant devices have been subject to various problems due to their metal-on-metal (MoM) construction. While this type of design is meant for durability, there are cases where the grating of metals against one another has caused local tissue destruction and systemic metal poisoning in some recipients. This can be a severe issue that should not be overlooked or taken lightly.

Why Were Wright Medical Hip Replacements Recalled?

Hip replacement surgery comes with many promises, yet it can bring about immense suffering and pain for some people. Numerous faulty replacements have been reported in the medical industry from various manufacturers; Wright Medical is no stranger to this problem. 

If you are considering hip replacement surgery or are already experiencing issues with your existing device, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers associated with these devices that may arise without warning. The Wright hip replacement devices failed due to a variety of factors, such as loosening, causing infection, dislocating the device after implantation, triggering metallosis in patients’ bloodstreams, and ultimately breaking down completely.

How Do Metal Components Destroy Surrounding Tissue?

Wright Medical has created hip implant devices with three main components: a cup, a femoral head, and a liner, all of which may use metal as the surface material. Unfortunately, the MoM device models, which are supposed to be reliable and dependable solutions, have largely been affected by abrasions occurring between two metallic parts.

Hip implant devices with metal liners are widely known to be hazardous. The bloodstream can absorb metal ions released into the body, resulting in potentially serious health consequences.

The dangerous ions emitted by these metals have been connected to genetic destruction and blood contamination. Studies demonstrate that the technology itself doesn’t bring about metal poisoning in the body; however, other issues can lead up to this toxicity or metallosis over time. Even patients whose reactions were favorable upon first use of the system might have problems down the road and necessitate a corrective operation.

Damage in the tissue surrounding the device can result in distressful muscular and skeletal destruction. This destroys a user’s mobility while loosening the device itself, leading to failure and potentially necessitating costly revision surgery.

What Wright Medical Hip Implant Lawsuits Are There?

Wright Medical came under fire for its hip-implant manufacturing operations, leading to approximately 2,000 lawsuits. A federal panel brought 640 cases together to form a multidistrict litigation (MDL) based in Georgia.

The remaining suits were similarly consolidated within various state courts around the country.

By November 2022, the MDL had come to an end.

What Wright Medical Hip Replacement Lawsuit Settlements Were There?

Wright Medical reached a settlement that included 1,200 lawsuits totaling $240 million in November 2016. Only one year later, a second $90 million settlement embraced plaintiffs who were not part of the first settlement.

After 18th October 2017, no further cases could be incorporated into the MDL. The court mandated the MDL be closed after June 2018, when a settlement was made.

What Wright Medical Hip Replacement Class Action Lawsuits Are There?

Currently, there aren’t any current class action lawsuits against Wright Medical regarding their hip replacement devices. Additionally, the MDL lawsuits have been closed. In total, Wright Medical offered $330 million in settlements for their hip replacement products.

Should I Consider a Wright Medical Hip Replacement Lawsuit?

If you underwent a hip replacement operation and received one of the recalled Wright Medical implants only to experience harm or require additional procedures due to its failure – there may be legal recourse available. To determine if this applies to your situation, it’s important that you speak with your doctor right away; they can validate whether the device was indeed part of the recall and pinpoint any potential causes for why these premature issues arose.

How Do I Find a Wright Medical Hip Replacement Attorney?

Seeger Weiss excels in representing plaintiffs suing medical device corporations. Reach out today for a complimentary consultation to assess the viability of your claim against Wright Medical. No payment is necessary unless your lawsuit yields success.

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


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