DePuy hip implant failure rate may be 4X higher than previously thought

New data suggests that the failure rate of DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip replacement systems is as much as four times higher than previously thought. The implants were recalled in August 2010 after studies showed that the implants had a failure rate of about 13 percent after five years. Most hip implants have a 13 percent failure rate after about 35 years.

The new information comes from the British Orthopaedic Association and the British Hip Society, which said data from four surgeons showed that the rate of revision surgeries to replace defective DePuy artificial hips ranged from 21 percent after four years to 49 percent after six years following the initial surgery.

Introduced in 2005, the DePuy ASR hip replacement system uses a metal-on-metal design that is built to be more durable than traditional ceramic devices. However, soon after the implants were introduced, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving reports of device failures. The implants were dislocating or loosening from the bone. In some cases, the devices were causing the bones to fracture.

Patients were experiencing severe pain and limited mobility. Some heard popping when they walked. Many have had to have revision surgeries to have their implants replaced. Second surgeries are usually more painful and the recovery often longer than with initial hip replacement surgery.

When surgery was performed on many of these patients, doctors discovered another problem. The metal parts of the device when rubbed together were causing bits of metal debris to fall into the flesh around the hip. The metal was also leaching into the bloodstream, causing a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis. Heavy metals in the blood can cause headaches, memory loss, and even cancer.

Most people who have had hip replacement surgery are unaware the brand of implant they received, which is why it is important that recipients of artificial hips contact their doctors immediately if they experience pain or other problems.

DePuy has agreed to cover medical expenses for patients who need to have their devices removed and replaced, but the company refuses to compensate patients for pain and suffering. If you are suffering because of a defective hip replacement, you may want to speak to an attorney about your rights.