It’s been nine months since DePuy Orthopedics issued a recall for its popular brand of metal-on-metal hip implant models, designed for younger patients in need of artificial hips. This week, the Sacramento Bee reports that hip implant recall lawsuits continue to pile up against the Johnson and Johnson subsidiary from patients claiming pain in the wake of hip surgeries. That’s not surprising, as hundreds of patients here in California have reported complications in the form of hip pain and metal particles leaking into their blood stream.
Take a look at the Bee’s helpful infographic about the anatomy of metal-on-metal hip implants, which helps to explain why so many have required revision surgeries over the past few years. Essentially, the metal device was intended to have a longer life span for patients under 50. But in reality, the device has degraded quickly in a surprising number of patients, and has even sent chromium and cobalt into the blood stream, a problem which could lead to deafness and even heart disease. This is a serious problem that requires immediate medical attention.
These hip implant revision surgeries are unfortunate when considered from a distance. But the individual stories are even more distressing. Take Michael Stieler, for example, a Sonora man in his early 60s who used to work for Habitat for Humanity. He received a DePuy hip surgery in 2007 after chronic hip pain. Matters got even worse after the surgery, he says, as pain got so bad that he had to use crutches to get around, and he could even hear the hip implant click in and out of place. It’s been 3 months since the revision surgery, but Stieler is only now walking without crutches. “I’m a very active person, and this is hard for me,” he told the Sacramento Bee.
There are many stories just like this, but orthopedic surgeons say that DePuy hip implant patients should worry only if they are experiencing pain or other unusual symptoms. “The vast majority of implants will do well,” says Dr. Thomas Blumenfeld of the Sutter Orthopaedic Institute in Sacramento. Dr. Joshua Jacobs, orthopedic surgery chairman at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center says that patients “should not ignore hip pain. It could be caused by bursitis or referred pain from the spine. Or it could be an adverse local tissue response.”
As DePuy hip implant lawsuits continue to pile on, be careful not to ignore any medical symptoms that could be a result of a failed hip surgery.