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December 18, 2020

What is Metallosis from Hip Implants?

Metal Poisoning from Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants

Increasing reports reveal metal-on-metal hip (MoM) implants can cause a number of dangerous health complications. From hip implant fractures to complete device failure, numerous MoM manufacturers issued hip implant recalls over allegations that their devices caused severe injuries.

One of the main injuries that individuals claimed MoM hip implants caused was a type of metal poisoning called metallosis. According to a 2013 study, metallosis is a potentially fatal and rare complication mainly linked to metal-on-metal prosthetic devices.

Metallosis is caused by MoM hip implants by metal parts constantly grinding against each other. The rubbing of metal-on-metal causes metal particles to flake off of the implants and enter individuals’ bloodstreams. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also indicates that the spaces between a hip implant’s metal components can lead to erosion and metal ion flaking, as well.

“The sliding metal surfaces will cause some tiny metal particles to wear off of the device into the space around the implant,” reported officials at FDA in a statement about the dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants. “Wear and corrosion at the connection between the metal ball and taper of the stem may also occur. Some of the metal ions (e.g. cobalt and chromium) from the metal implant or from the metal particles will enter the bloodstream.”

Metallosis occurs when metal ions enter the bloodstream and infect surrounding tissue and bones. The buildup of metal ions in the body can cause bone and tissue death, along with other health difficulties. According to a 2010 study published in the Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin, symptoms of metallosis can include the following:

  • Groin pain
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus
  • Heart irregularities
  • Irritability
  • Skin rashes
  • Vertigo
  • Poor memory and metal fogginess
  • Depression
  • Tissue and bone death.

Many of the most popular metal-on-metal hip implants on the market were manufactured with cobalt and chromium. The human body can only process a tiny amount of cobalt, as the body naturally stores low levels of cobalt for healthy cellular function. However, too high of cobalt levels in the body can lead to metallosis, as well. Cobalt poisoning, which can be a precursor to metallosis, can manifest in a number of symptoms, including:

  • Heart problems including heart failure
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Vision impairment that can lead to blindness
  • Mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety
  • Nerve problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Implant loosening and failure
  • Hearing impairment and tinnitus
  • Thyroid complications

Unfortunately, the FDA says “there is no way to fully avoid the production of metal ions and some metal particles” after getting a metal-on-metal hip implant.

“Over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant and joint,” the FDA states. “This local response is sometimes referred to as an "adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR)"; the systemic and local responses are referred to as "adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD)." Soft tissue damage may lead to pain, implant loosening, device failure, and the need for revision surgery (the old device is removed and replaced with another one)”.

Over the years numerous MoM hip implants were recalled for high failure rates and metallosis allegations. Manufactures like Smith & Nephew, DePuy, Stryker, and Zimmer have all pulled models of their metal-on-metal hip implants for complications like metallosis, thousands of lawsuits now filed against each of these manufacturers in the U.S. federal courts.

Were You Diagnosed with Metallosis after Hip Implant Surgery?

If you developed metallosis after receiving a metal-on-metal hip implant, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. According to hip implant lawsuits, MoM hip implant manufactures knew for years about the high failure rates and metal toxicity rates before any recalls were initiated. They failed or refrained from warning patients about the complications to maintain company profits. These companies' negligence should not mean you have to suffer in silence or without a chance to recover from your injuries.

At the McGartland Law Firm, our attorneys have decades of experience helping patients harmed or injured by defective medical devices. For effective legal representation with a reputation of success, call us today for a free case evaluation. We may be able to file a suit for your hip implant injuries and recover the compensation you justly deserve. Call us today at (866) 832-9300.

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