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DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, announced a recall of their ASR Acetabular hip replacement in August of 2010. The ASR hips were failing at an unusually high rate. In the 15 months that have passed since that recall, there have been more and more indications that metal-on-metal hip implants are problematic. The major media have begun paying attention to this problem, and NBC News anchor Brian Williams has called it “one of the nation’s largest medical device failures, ever” (Watch the MSNBC video here). Not only the DePuy ASR hips are affected by these problems. The FDA announced that they will conduct a thorough review of all metal-on-metal hips, a review which will encompass 21 separate medical device manufacturers.
Earlier hip replacements consisted of metal balls which fitted into plastic or ceramic sockets, and the new “metal-on-metal” hip replacements, with metal ball-and-socket components, were heralded as longer-lasting and less likely to have complications. However, they have been failing at an unusually high rate. The constant rubbing action of the ball and scoket causes metal particles to come free from the hip device. The metal particles in the system can begin a chain-reaction in some patients which eventually leads to tissue and muscle destruction. According to a recent New York Times article about metal-on-metal hips (read it here), many patients are experiencing pain and complications which go undiagnosed for long periods of time, due to many doctors’ unfamiliarity with the potential complications of metal-on-metal hips. One hip replacement patient interviewed in the Times’ article saw seven doctors in a single year, who all told him not to worry or prescribed shots for the pain he was experiencing. It was not until the patient himself did some internet research that he wound up finding a specialist who was familiar with what he was dealing with. Such delays in diagnosis or treatment could be leading to lasting damage for many hip-replacement patients. If you or a loved one are experiencing complications from a metal-on-metal hip replacement, call Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter for a free evaluation of your potential legal claim.