When natural hip joints fail due to overuse, arthritis, or injury, people often experience excruciating pain and severely limited mobility. For many, a total hip replacement surgery is the answer. In the past, this surgical procedure was reserved for elderly patients, but now patients are much younger, wanting to the proceedure to preserve their active lifestyles.
In response to this influx of more youthful patients, several hip implant manufacturers developed metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, touted as being longer lasting and offering more active patients a greater range of motion. Unfortunately, these implants failed to live up to expectations and, rather than lasting longer, actually failed at unusually high rates.
Additionally, the tiny metal shavings released when the metal-on-metal pieces grind together can cause metallosis, a form of metal poisoning, in sensitive individuals. These problems led to the recall of a number of metal hip replacement systems.
For people who continue to grapple with severe hip pain and natural joint failure, alternatives to metal-on-metal hip implants are available.
Ceramic Hip Implants
Ceramic hip implants are the leading alternative to metal-on-metal implants. Made of exceptionally durable ceramic containing aluminum oxide, these implants are said to be remarkably long lasting and don't release dangerous particles into the body with wear. However, ceramic hip implants aren't perfect. Despite their purported durability, they fracture in approximately one in 25,000 patients.
Additionally, because these implants are most often used in very elderly patients, it's difficult for doctors to gauge just how long they'll last. Doctors hope that monitoring these implants in middle-aged patients will provide answers to questions of their longevity.
Plastic Hip Implants
Hip replacement implants can also be made of plastic. However, this is no ordinary plastic. The high-density polyethylene plastic used in hip replacement systems is a versatile material known for its high-strength-to-density ratio and low moisture absorption qualities.
Unfortunately, plastic implants share some of the same problems as metal-to-metal implants. For example, high-density polyethylene plastic implants wear quickly and are also capable of releasing tiny plastic particles into the surrounding tissue.
For people hoping to avoid a total hip replacement, hip resurfacing may provide an attractive alternative. The procedure is similar to a total hip replacement except, rather than removing the entire existing joint, the femur is left in place and capped with a dome-like covering, resulting in a larger femoral head. That head then sits into a prosthesis that serves as the hip socket. While some hip resurfacing components are made of metal, ceramic can be used instead.
However, hip resurfacing hasn't shown to last any longer than metal-on-metal implants, which has made some doctors reluctant to recommend or perform these procedures. Additionally, the best candidates for hip resurfacing tend to be younger men with good bone quality.
Stem Cell or Blood Platelet Therapy
Patients hoping to avoid surgery altogether can talk to their doctors about revolutionary stem cell or blood platelet treatments. For these treatments, doctors take stem cells or blood platelets from patients, concentrate them and then inject them into the hip area to promote pain relief, as well as joint, tendon, ligament, and muscle repair. Available at many regenerative medicine clinics, these treatments are said to be effective for soft tissue injuries and arthritis.
Did You Experience Metal-on-Metal Hip Complications?
Are you a hip replacement patient who's experienced serious side effects and complications from metal-on-metal hip implants? Did your implant fail prematurely, causing painful dislocations and reduced mobility? Did you develop metallosis due to small metal particles shed as components of the metal prosthesis ground together? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the implant's manufacturer.
McGartland Law's experienced legal team can help you fight for the financial award you need and deserve. Contact us today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your potential metal hip implant case.