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Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuits: When to Call a Metallosis Lawyer

Pond Lehocky Giordano is investigating injury claims on behalf of individuals who received a metal-on-metal medical implant, developed metallosis, and underwent a revision surgery. Most of the relevant lawsuits concern metal-on-metal hip replacements; however, patients have also developed metallosis from metal-on-metal knee and ankle implants.

If you or a loved one developed metallosis due to a metal-on-metal implant, you deserve compensation. Our experienced team of hip replacement lawyers is dedicated to ensuring that you have the maximum restitution possible for your pain, suffering, and medical bills. With over 250 years of combined courtroom experience and a track record of over 100,000 successful cases, the seasoned trial lawyers at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP are more than qualified to represent you in court.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the legal experts at Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP, call 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.

An overview of metallosis lawsuits

In the mid-2000’s through the early 2010’s, several manufacturers of medical devices sold metal-on-metal replacements for hips and other joints, including ankles and knees. It was later discovered that metal-on-metal implants can cause significant damage to joints and potentially toxify the blood, leading to a wide range of medical problems.

The muscles, bones, nerves, and soft tissues surrounding a metal-on-metal implant can all be seriously harmed. Additionally, dangerous microscopic metal particles can end up in the bloodstream and potentially in organs throughout the body. The toxic buildup of metal in the organs can result in a number of health problems, including organ damage, hearing or vision loss, and cardiac conditions.

Many patients that received a metal-on-metal hip replacement later required revision surgery to remove their defective implant and replace it with a safer device. Once the dangers of metal-on-metal implants were revealed, the manufacturers of these products recalled them and stopped manufacturing or marketing them. Though they are off the market, thousands of individuals still have metal-on-metal hip replacements, and many are still suffering from the harm caused by their implant even after it was removed.

Manufacturers of metal-on-metal implants include Zimmer, DePuy Synthes (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Exactech, Stryker, Smith & Nephew, and Wright Medical.

The importance of metallosis in hip replacement lawsuits

Although metal-on-metal hip replacements can cause a wide variety of health issues, the science connecting many of these systemic effects to these medical devices is still somewhat new. However, the evidence of soft tissue damage and metallosis in relation to metal-on-metal implants is well documented in this kind of litigation. Because of this, centering these lawsuits on the development of metallosis in the plaintiff tends to lead to stronger cases.

Medical Complications Linked to Metal-on-Metal Implants

Some patients that receive a metal-on-metal implant never experience any symptoms at all, but clinical tests may show unusually high levels of metal ions in their blood. Medical professionals recommend such individuals retest every few months to ensure the amount of metal in their bloodstream is not rising to dangerous levels.

Other patients can suffer from serious and painful complications. The act of walking or simply moving causes friction in implanted hips. The head of the implant is ball-shaped and slots into a socket. When both the ball and the socket are made of metal, the friction caused by moving releases microscopic particles of metal (typically cobalt and chrome) that build up in the hip joint and potentially enter the bloodstream.

Besides causing localized tissue damage around the area of the implant, the metal particles can cause systemic issues in almost any organ throughout the body. Some of the most common complications caused by metal-on-metal hip replacements include:

Metallosis

As friction causes tiny cobalt and chromium particles to rub off from a metal-on-metal hip replacement, they gradually build up in one’s bloodstream and the tissues surrounding the implant. These particles can rot healthy soft tissue and muscle, leading to loss of mobility, chronic pain, loosening of the implant, bone loss, and dislocated joints. Sometimes, however, this condition may be asymptomatic. Doctors may refer to this condition synonymously with acronyms like “ALVAL” (see above) or “ARMD” (adverse reaction to metal debris).

ALVAL

An ALVAL, or Aseptic Lymphocyte-Dominated Vasculitis-Associated Lesion, can occur when metal particles from an implant provoke an extreme response from the body’s immune system. This chronic inflammatory response may cause moderate to severe pain that does not go away and can cause tissue damage over time. The condition can also lead to difficulty walking, restricted range of motion, and the inability to bear weight on the affected limb. It is possible to not have any symptoms from this condition; however, it is important to get checked for it periodically as it may still be causing tissue damage.

Cobalt Cardiomyopathy (Heart Failure)

In some cases, the elevated levels of cobalt particles in a patient can cause a rapidly progressive and potentially lethal depression of cardiac systolic function. If detected and treated in time, cardiac function can eventually be restored. Otherwise, the individual essentially experiences severe heart failure. If you have received a metal-on-metal hip replacement and are experiencing lethargy or weight loss, you should see a cardiologist as soon as possible.

Dementia

High levels of cobalt and chromium particles in the bloodstream can eventually lead to dementia. According to a study published in 2017, seven out of nine patients showed neurocognitive and depressive deficits following metal-on-metal hip implant failure and revision. A 2018 documentary titled The Bleeding Edge explored the plight of a doctor who struggled with symptoms of dementia after receiving his DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement, suggesting that neurocognitive damage can occur in patients even if their implants have not yet “failed.”

Hearing Loss

Over time, high levels of cobalt and chromium metal in the bloodstream can lead to auditory problems like hearing loss and tinnitus. Damage to the inner ear may also cause balance issues. Hearing impairment and tinnitus can severely impact an individual’s capacity to work and overall quality of life.

Kidney Problems

According to the FDA, metal-on-metal implants can lead to renal insufficiency, a reduction of blood flow to the kidneys. Although this issue may be asymptomatic at first, it can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and kidney failure if left untreated.

Pseudotumors

Sometimes, the shedding of metal particles from a metal-on-metal hip replacement can lead to the development of pseudotumors around the implant. These pseudotumors are large solid or semi-liquid masses of soft tissue growth that can cause pain, restricted range of movement, and clicking in the area of the hips. Although these masses are not malignant, they can still cause serious health issues.

Thyroid Dysfunction

According to an 8-year cross-sectional study, the cobalt and chromium particles shed by a metal-on-metal implant can interfere with the endocrine system. Prolonged exposure can lead to thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism and thyroid hyperplasia.

Vision Loss

Vision problems are yet another possible systemic health complication resulting from metal-on-metal hip replacements. Blurred vision, blind spots, irritation, dryness, color blindness, or general loss of vision can all result from cobalt or chromium metal poisoning.

Revision surgery and its risks

When metal-on-metal implants fail, surgery is often required to remove and replace the device. Revision surgery is a highly specialized and invasive procedure that comes with its own serious risks. Patients will typically experience significantly longer recovery time and require more extensive rehabilitation. If bone tissue has fractured or degraded, patients will usually undergo a reconstructive surgery first to repair the tissue and prepare the site before the revision surgery. Every time a patient receives another surgical procedure, the risk of complications like infection, chronic pain, and longer recovery times grows higher.

Frequently asked questions about metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuits

How long do metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuits typically take?

The duration of metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuits can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to negotiate a settlement. Some cases may be resolved within a few months, while others can take several years to reach a resolution.

How much does it cost to hire a hip replacement lawyer?

Most hip replacement lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only receive payment if they successfully recover compensation for you. This arrangement eliminates the financial risk of upfront legal fees and ensures that your lawyer is motivated to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

What evidence is needed to support a metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuit?

To support your metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuit, evidence such as medical records, imaging studies, expert opinions, and documentation of your symptoms and treatment history will be essential. Your metallosis lawyer will guide you in gathering the necessary evidence to strengthen your case.

Can I join a class action lawsuit for metal-on-metal hip replacements?

Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit or pursue an individual lawsuit. Your metallosis lawyer will evaluate your case and determine the best legal strategy to maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation.

Is there a time limit for filing a metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuit?

Yes, there are statutes of limitations that impose time limits on filing lawsuits. The specific time limit can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the circumstances of your case. It is crucial to consult with a metallosis lawyer promptly to ensure your claim is filed within the applicable time frame.

Can I still pursue a metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuit if I signed a consent form before the surgery?

Signing a consent form before the surgery does not necessarily prevent you from pursuing a lawsuit. The consent form typically acknowledges the risks associated with the procedure, but if the manufacturer or healthcare provider was negligent or failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks of metallosis, you may still have a valid legal claim. Consulting with a metallosis lawyer will help you understand the specific details of your case and determine the best course of action.

Talk to a lawyer about your metal-on-metal implant

If you or a loved one received a metal-on-metal implant, were diagnosed with metallosis, and had a revision surgery, our medical device recall attorneys can help you decide on the right course of action and figure out if you are entitled to compensation from the device’s manufacturer or other involved parties. We offer free consultations with our attorneys so that we can help you better understand your legal options and the strength of your case. For more information, call Pond Lehocky Giordano LLP at 1-800-568-7500 or fill out our contact form today.

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