NZ man never knew his hip implant could be poisoning him
New Zealand farmer Billy Heads figured aches and pains were common with hip replacements. For five years he suffered through occasional bouts where, he says, he walked like “an old cripple.” It wasn’t until he went for a routine five-year follow up doctor’s visit that he learned his hip implant had been recalled. And those “common” aches and pains he was suffering from were actually clues that his artificial hip was failing.
In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, issued a recall on its ASR XL Acetabulator hip replacement and resurfacing systems, a move that affected an estimated 93,000 people worldwide. The implants were made of metal parts, designed to be more durable than traditional ceramic or plastic ones. However, the implants were failing at an unusually high rate.
It didn’t take long for doctors to realize the culprit was the materials used to make the device. As the metal ball moved against the metal socket, bits of metal flaked off into the joint space. This can cause irritation, which facilitates the loosening, fracturing and/or dislocating of the implant. Those bits of metal also leech into the bloodstream, which may cause high levels of cobalt and chromium. This toxicity can lead to a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis.
Heads was shocked to find that he, too, tested positive for heavy metals in his blood. His doctor ordered revision surgery to replace the faulty implant, a process that took even longer than his original hip replacement surgery and will require more recovery time. But 10 days after sugery, Heads says, “I feel just terrific.”
Johnson & Johnson and DePuy have offered to cover the cost of revision surgery, but many patients, like Heads, also suffered lost wages and pain and suffering. Hundreds of artificial hip recipients have opted to sue Johnson & Johnson and DePuy for compensation.
Beasley Allen attorneys are currently investigating cases of injury caused by DePuy’s faulty implants. If you have had hip replacement surgery and suffered injury, you may have a claim against the manufacturer.
Source: Stuff – New Zealand
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