Zimmer hip replacements involve a series of artificial joints and parts manufactured by Zimmer Holdings Inc. Most of the hip replacements that Zimmer makes use metal-on-metal technology. Metal-on-metal technology means that the two main parts of the hip replacement, the ball and socket, are made out of metal. In theory, this technology is supposed to increase a hip replacement’s longevity. It is also supposed to increase the range of motion that hip replacement candidates can expect.
However, Zimmer hip replacement side effects have resulted in a number of lawsuits against the company. Although the company briefly recalled their faulty products in 2008, Zimmer hip replacement side effects are still a problem which many patients are dealing with. Lawsuits are ongoing, and most focus around a particular part called “the Durom cup.” The Durom Cup is the primary culprit in many Zimmer hip replacement side effects.
Hip Replacement Surgery
Hip joint function is based on a ball-and-socket design. A ball-shaped protrusion on the top of the leg fits into a cup in the hip. This allows for free movement of the leg in a number of directions. When the connection and structure of the hip breaks down, this ball-and-cup system can be replaced through invasive procedures, such as Zimmer hip replacement surgery.
Zimmer total hip replacement surgery uses metal parts to replace the ball and cup of a dysfunctional hip. Metal-on-metal hip reconstruction is supposed to result in a stronger and more flexible hip. However, Zimmer hip replacement side effects are often blamed on this metal-on-metal construction.
Zimmer Hip Replacement Side Effects
The most common Zimmer hip replacement side effects involve severe pain. This is often caused by the Durum cup which is used in many hip replacement operations. This metal-based cup fits into the hip socket. It is supposed to stay sealed in place and work with a complementary metal-based ball mechanism.
According to Zimmer’s own estimates in 2008, significant Zimmer hip replacement side effects were caused by the Durom Cup in up to 5.7 percent of all hip surgeries in which it was used. In unsuccessful operations, the Durom Cup failed to seal properly in the hip. As a result, the cup often would move around against the bone, causing patient’s agonizing pain.
The Zimmer hip replacement side effects have caused excruciating pain for many patients. A significant number of patients have had to undergo surgery to repair the damage caused by the questionable construction of Zimmer’s hip replacement parts. Additionally, a number of lawsuits have been fired against Zimmer.
Zimmer hip replacements may cause severe side effects and other health problems including:
- Loosening of the Zimmer hip replacement device
- Hip dislocation, inhibiting movement for the patient
- Heterotopic ossification, when bone forms outside of the skeleton and soft tissue is calcified
- Periprosthetic fractures, when bone fractures form just outside of the implant, resulting in Zimmer hip implant failure
- Metallosis, which results from metal shards breaking off of the Zimmer hip replacement device and spreading into surrounding tissues
- Osteonecrosis, or avascular necrosis, when blood cannot read the bone, resulting in bone death and Zimmer hip implant failure
Lawsuits and Zimmer Hip Side Effects
The Zimmer hip replacement side effects were brought to the medical community’s attention by Doctor Larry Dorr in April of 2008. Dorr warned his colleagues that his patients had experienced significant Zimmer hip replacement side effects. Dr. Dorr reported that in 14 out of 165 replacement surgeries performed using a Zimmer-produced hip prosthesis, a second operation was necessary in order to replace faulty parts.
Numerous lawsuits by patients have followed this Dorr’s 2008 announcement. Metal hip replacements are designed to last 20 years or longer. However, the hip replacement parts manufactured by Zimmer, especially the Durom Cup, have been shown to fail within a few years.
Zimmer Reacts to Durom Cup Claims
Zimmer’s position is that Zimmer hip replacement side effects are due to improper technique on the part of surgeons. They contend that installation errors by surgeons were responsible for many of the failures associated with their products. However, many patients and doctors feel that the high number of Zimmer hip replacement side effects is at odds with what could be expected from installation errors.
Despite contending that their product is safe, Zimmer recalled the Durom cup system from July until August of 2008. Additionally, they have set aside $69 million in funds to compensate patients who suffer from certain Zimmer hip replacement side effects.