Companies such as Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopeadics; Smith & Nephew; and Wright Medical manufacture metal-on-metal hip implant designs that have been shown to fail at an alarmingly high rate.
Metal-on-metal hip implants have been in the spotlight lately for the lawsuits associated with patients claiming to be injured by their faulty design. Reports indicate metal-on-metal designs are failing in as little as five years, and many patients are experiencing adverse affects such as loosening, which is an especially dangerous issue for this design.
As the parts of the device rub together during normal activities such as walking or running, the metal parts grind together, which may result in metal debris shedding into the body. This debris can damage the surrounding tissue and muscle, and can cause a type of metal poisoning called metallosis, which is elevated metal ions in the bloodstream.
According to information from BMJ magazine in an article by Deborah Cohen, investigations editor of BMJ, this isn’t new information. In fact, the shedding of metal debris by metal-on-metal hip devices has been occurring as early as the 1970s, Cohen reports.
“These ions can seep into local tissue causing reactions that destroy muscle and bone and leaving some patients with long term disability,” Cohen writes. “Local tissue reactions associated with ions from metal-on-metal hips were first described in detail as long ago as 1975.” But that isn’t the only finding that Cohen has uncovered. “The ions can also leach into the bloodstream spreading to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and kidneys before being excreted in urine,” she reports.