New York City Smith & Nephew Hip Replacement Defect Attorneys


History of Hip Replacements

Hip replacements (known within the medical community as THAs, or Total Hip Arthroplasties) were first attempted in the late 19th Century in Germany as a response to hip decay due to Tuberculosis. These early attempts using ivory were mostly unsuccessful. It was not until the 1940s in America that some degree of consistent success was achieved.

Early implants used ivory and other biological materials, but ivory was prone to shatter when subjected to intense forces. The first Metal-on-Metal implants, designed to improve durability over earlier models, were introduced in 1953 in England. These devices quickly declined in popularity due to health risks associated with metal shavings entering the bloodstream. It would be many years and many revisions before medical companies again tried Metal-on-Metal Implants.

Total Hip Arthroplasty entered the modern era in the 1960s, when Sir John Charnley developed the low friction arthroplasty design, which is functionally similar to modern hip replacements. This design used the femoral stem and acetabular cap still present in most modern devices. Over the past fifty years, hip implants have evolved steadily, but still bear marked similarities to Charnley’s design.

Candidates for Hip Replacements

The earliest hip replacement patients suffered from tuberculosis, a common and virtually untreatable disease in the 19th Century. Incidence of tuberculosis has become increasingly rare in developed countries, but a variety of other candidates for THA have been identified by the medical community.

Among the most common reasons to get a hip replacement is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is sometimes called degenerative joint disease, and is the medical diagnosis for what could be commonly called the “wear and tear” done to a joint. Over time and use, a joint can suffer hundreds of even thousands of minor injuries. These injuries and the inflammation that accompanies them can cause the joint to slowly break down. If the joint breaks down past a certain point, it becomes nonfunctional. Sometimes surgeons will wait until this point to perform a hip replacement, but most will recommend the surgery before the joint is completely compromised.

Osteoarthritis is not the only reason for hip replacements. Other potential reasons a person might be a candidate for a Total Hip Arthroplasty include Rheumatoid Arthritis, traumatic injury to the joint, and bone cancer. For many patients, whether or not to have a hip replacement is not really a choice, as the severity of pain and immobility of the joint make them functionally necessary for quality of life.

Smith & Nephew Hip Replacement Failures

The reasons for Total Hip Arthroscopy have changed over the years, as have the procedures. From ivory to glass to metal to plastic, the devices mostly improved on the previous generation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with the Metal-on-Metal implants marketed over the last twenty years.

Smith & Nephew have released a variety of Metal-on-Metal implants over the past decade, many of which were defective in their design. In November of 2016, Smith & Nephew recalled two models, requiring doctors to send back all unused product. The company stopped short of recommending the devices be removed from patients who have not yet exhibited symptoms the implants was failing. It is only a matter of time until many of those implants do fail and need to be replaced.

Sadly, the problems with the current Metal-on-Metal implants are the same as the problems with the 1950s versions. Over the course of regular wear and tear (the same wear and tear that caused Osteoarthritis in the first place), small pieces of metal are shaved off the implant, resulting in inflammation and other problems with the joint. The designers of these newer metal implants had to have been aware of the history of these types of implants, yet the same defect in design persisted.

Failing to learn from mistakes of the past is unacceptable. When history clearly illustrated the dangers of metal arthroplasties, designers should have taken these problems into account. Instead, they repeated the mistakes of those who went before them, putting the health of thousands at risk. These problems existed for years before Smith & Nephew finally acknowledged them in 2016. All told, nearly a decade’s worth of devices were recalled. If Smith & Nephew had simply recognized the defect earlier and recalled the devices immediately, many patients would not have suffered. The company is still trying to avoid responsibility, refusing to fully acknowledge that these medical devices were dangerous in their design.

If you or someone you love has suffered due to a faulty hip implant, Finz & Finz, P.C., is experienced in holding medical device manufacturers accountable for defective designs. Contact Finz & Finz, P.C., now, toll free, at (855) TOP FIRM, or fill out the Free Faulty Hip Replacement Case Evaluation Form to have a qualified attorney take a look at your case.