Biomet Hip Replacement Attorneys
Types of Hip Replacements
Hip replacements no longer a rarity, and are considered commonplace as far as medical procedures, with over 300,000 performed annually in the United States. Americans require hip replacements for a variety of diagnoses, from hip fractures to degenerative arthritis to bone tumors. Patients are referred for a hip replacement if the doctor believes the procedure will improve quality of life by decreasing pain or improving range of motion.
Since these procedures have become more common, manufacturers have offered a larger variety of implants. Total hip replacements come in three major varieties, and include:
- Metal-on-Plastic (MoP), which utilizes a metal ball with a plastic socket
- Ceramic-on-Plastic (CoP), which utilizes a ceramic ball with a plastic socket
- Metal-on-Metal (MoM), which utilizes a metal ball with a metal socket
When determining which type of hip replacement to use, a surgeon will take into account the age and activity level of the patient. Certain implants are more likely to fail due to activity, and different implants offer different degrees of motion. Matching the right implant to the right patient is important.
Unique Risks of MoM Implants
Metal-on-Metal (MoM) implants were developed and marketed to patients who were looking for exceptional durability and range of motion. Patients who were more active were often targeted by doctors to receive this type of device, as the manufacturers indicated that metal would provide superior ability to withstand wear and tear compared to the ceramic and plastic varieties. MoM implants also promised to be more resilient to fracture in case of falls or other traumatic events, making them more appealing to patients taking part in activities such as hiking, bicycling and other sports.
Unfortunately, Metal-on-Metal implants also presented additional risk factors not present in the Metal-on-Plastic and Ceramic-on-Plastic varieties. Of these, the most common was the release of metal particulates into the joint and the bloodstream. The clinical term for this condition is metallosis, but it is commonly referred to as metal poisoning.
Metallosis presents with a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain, swelling and inflammation in the joint
- Deterioration of the bone
- Metal toxicity
- Dislocation, loosening of the implant, and implant failure
Left untreated, any of these symptoms can cause serious long-term health issues for the patient, including death.
MoM Implants Defective by Design
Metal grinding on metal always generates friction. If you have ever had a brake pad wear down to the point you can hear the screech of metal, then you are aware of this inevitability. Designers and manufacturers of Metal-on-Metal hip implants have attempted to bypass this problem as much as possible, but it is not completely clear whether it is possible to develop a Metal-on-Metal implant that does not have some propensity for breakdown.
Certain models of Metal-on-Metal hip replacements have demonstrated a much higher failure rate than others. Biomet is a company that manufactured a number of hip implants over the years, but the M2A Magnum variety was uncommonly associated with breakdown and metallosis. The rate at which patients who received this type of implant developed adverse side effects caused the FDA to begin looking into the design and manufacturing process, and lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer. Due to the high number of filings, many of these lawsuits were eventually consolidated.
The most likely reason for the higher incidence of breakdown is that the M2A Magnum was developed to allow a greater range of motion, which also increased the surface area where the metal ball was rubbing on metal socket. The designers failed to properly take into account the impact of friction over the total surface area of the device.
Legal Help for Biomet Hip Replacement Victims
A functioning hip is necessary for the many functions people take for granted, even as simple as walking. For those who have suffered a significant hip injury, or have suffered from hip joint deterioration, a hip replacement is often the only option for restoring this functionality. Even if the hip joint is not completely compromised, significant pain in the area will leave most people unable to fully take part in day-to-day life.
Unfortunately, a failed hip replacement can leave a person worse off than no hip replacement at all. Not only are risk factors such as sepsis and metal poisoning elevated by a failing hip replacement, but the stability of the joint can be additionally compromised. A second hip replacement to correct the defects of the first often carries a higher risk of failure.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to a faulty hip implant, the law firm of Finz & Finz, P.C., specializes in these types of cases, and can be relied on to guide your case through the difficult legal process. Contact Finz & Finz, P.C., now, toll free, at (855) TOP FIRM, or fill out the Free Faulty Hip Replacement Case Evaluation Form to start yourself on the proper path.