The Dangers Of Metal Hip Implant Revision Surgeries
Doctors in the United States perform more than 332,000 total hip replacement surgeries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the National Institutes of Health considers hip replacements “one of the most successful orthopaedic surgeries performed,” these prosthetic devices occasionally fail, requiring revision surgeries that are riskier and far more complex than the original hip replacement.
A number of factors can affect the longevity of hip replacement devices, including normal wear and tear. However, some metal-on-metal hip implant systems have been recalled due to serious side effects and unusually high failure rates.
If you required a hip revision surgery as the result of a faulty or poorly designed prosthetic implant, you may be able to take legal action to seek compensation from the device's manufacturer.
When Might Revision Surgery Be Necessary?
Hip revision surgeries are more difficult and carry more risks than first-time hip replacement surgeries and, for this reason, doctors often try to treat patients' complaints such as pain, inflammation and limited mobility with drugs and lifestyle changes before recommending surgical intervention. However, when these approaches fail to alleviate the problematic symptoms and improve mobility, revision surgery may be necessary.
Doctors may also recommend a revision surgery when a patient's x-ray reveals damage to the bone surrounding the prosthesis, such as fractures or bone loss stimulated by tiny metal shavings released when the implant's metal-on-metal parts grind together.
Other possible causes for hip revision surgeries include:
- Loosening of the joint
- Excessive wearing of the joint surfaces
- Recurrent implant dislocation
- A deep infection of the prosthesis
What Does Revision Surgery Entail?
In short, the hip revision surgical procedure involves removing the failed implant and replacing it with a brand new prosthesis. The specifics of the revision can vary, but may include:
- Partial or complete removal of the old hip implant
- Cleaning the bone in preparation for the new prosthesis
- Grafting bone to correct bone loss (if applicable)
- Implantation of the new hip replacement system
In cases where only the socket lining is worn, it may not be necessary to remove the entire hip implant—cup, liner, femoral head, and stem. Instead, the doctor will simply remove and replace the socket liner and femoral head in a procedure known as a head and liner exchange.
When patients have a deep infection in the prosthesis, many doctors prefer to do the hip revision in two separate surgeries. During the first surgery, doctors remove the infected implant and tissue, and treat the infection with a strong course of antibiotics. Once the infection is gone, doctors can go back in and install the new hip replacement device.
In addition to carrying more risks than a first-time hip replacement, hip revision surgeries also take longer. Whereas a traditional hip replacement surgery typically lasts one to two hours, a hip revision surgery can take four or more hours.
What Risks Are Associated With Hip Revision Surgery?
The increased complexity and length of the procedure aren't the only reasons why hip revisions are considered more dangerous than traditional hip replacements. Hip revision patients tend to be older and have other health problems that can affect the outcome of the revision. Also, bones weakened by the original hip replacement surgery are more prone to fractions and other problems during the revision surgery.
Other risks associated with hip revision surgeries include:
- Anesthesia-induced breathing or heart problems
- Increased risk of future implant loosening, dislocation, and migration
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots, including pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
- Bone fractures
- Nerve damage
- Blood vessel damage
- Joint instability
- Unequal leg length
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you were forced to undergo a painful hip revision surgery due to a faulty or badly-designed implant, you may be facing a long and exhausting recovery period, not to mention a deluge of unexpected medical expenses. McGartland Law's skilled personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling metal-on-metal hip implant cases and can help you pursue the financial recovery you need and deserve. Contact us to arrange a free initial case consultation.