You may be concerned about DePuy’s 2010 recall of two of its ASR hip replacement devices, and the possible impact of these defective hip replacements on your health or the well-being of someone you love. It’s important to recognize the possible symptoms of hip replacement failure so that you know whether or not you or a family member who has had hip replacement surgery is suffering due to implantation of one of these faulty devices.
The specific hip replacement devices involved in the 2010 recall were manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. They are the following:
- ASR Hip Resurfacing System
- ASR XL Acetabular System
The specific symptoms, their likely causes, and the potential outcomes associated with these recalled DePuy hip replacement systems are detailed below. Please read carefully to help determine whether you or someone you love may be a victim.
Approximately one in eight patients who received a DePuy ASR hip replacement has experienced symptoms that include:
- Difficulty walking
- Mass and/or rash
- Spontaneous dislocation
- Nerve palsy
The first three symptoms listed above are fairly typical in patients who have recently undergone hip replacement surgery. However, in the case of those who received a defective ASR Hip Resurfacing System or XL Acetabular System, their symptoms either don’t subside or come back again over time.
The last three symptoms may be indicators of a rarer, but potentially serious condition known as a pseudotumor. These are soft tissue masses that are more commonly seen in female hip replacement patients than male patients. Their likely cause is explained in greater detail below.
Any or all of these symptoms are detrimental to your enjoyment of life and pursuit of your responsibilities. How can you concentrate at work, pursue favorite recreational activities or relax when you are experiencing discomfort, reduced mobility or more serious symptoms? The point of undergoing hip replacement surgery was to improve your ability to get around and feel better. You have the right to expect compensation for being given an improperly-functioning artificial femoral ball (hip) that not only didn’t improve your quality of life, but may have actually reduced it.
The problems with the ASR hip replacement systems that are behind these symptoms include the following:
Metal flaking can cause serious health problems over time due to metal toxicity and the slow buildup of toxic metals over time. While orthopedic alloys like chromium cobalt do no harm to the body in large quantities, if they are allowed to flake and deposit in the soft tissues they can turn these tissues black, cause an allergic immune response or result in fluid collecting in the joint as well as the muscles surrounding the joint. The swelling and pain symptoms mentioned above may be indicators of damage to muscles, bones, and nerves around the hip. Tissue damage can also compromise later revisionary surgeries. Pseudotumors may also result due to an adverse reaction to the presence of metal debris in the bloodstream.
Whether you know for sure that you were implanted with one of the recalled DePuy hip replacement devices or are experiencing symptoms that have you concerned, you should contact your physician immediately for diagnosis. Once you report your symptoms or complications, your doctor should run tests to determine if your hip replacement is working properly and, if pseudotumors are present, to check if you are having a reaction to metal particles caused by the wearing metallic components. The tests will likely include these:
- Blood tests
- Imaging screens
X-rays will show whether your hip replacement is positioned improperly, has detached or if there is damage to your bone. Blood tests and imaging may also be used to confirm whether your hip replacement is defective or causing metal particles to form around your hip. These blood tests are important, as they may be the only way to determine if you have a high level of metal particles despite not yet showing any symptoms of a problem. If so, your physician will likely follow up with imaging tests of your hip replacement, such as a MRI or ultrasound test, to confirm you are having a reaction to the particles.
Even if you are not experiencing any other symptoms or side effects, the presence of pseudotumors may indicate a toxic reaction to the metallic debris shed by the degrading components of the hip replacement. Arthroprosthetic cobaltism is the type of cobalt poisoning that results from the wearing of metal-on-metal hip replacements like those made by DePuy. If left untreated, symptoms can include vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism.
That’s why it is important to contact your physician if you have had hip replacement surgery from 2003 forward in order to find out if your hip replacement was part of the recall, even if you are experiencing only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Studies indicate that symptoms related to arthroprosthetic cobaltism improve after a second surgery.
Patients experiencing any of the symptoms of a faulty ASR Resurfacing System or ASR XL Acetabular System often have to undergo a second surgery called a “revision” in order to have their defective hip replacement removed and replaced by new components or an entirely new hip.
Some patients have found that the ASR cup fits too loosely after light wear and needs to be replaced.
There are many concerns associated with the requirement to undergo a second surgery, including these:
- All the risks to health and life associated with any operation
- Losing more time from work may put your job at risk
- Delay or cancellation of any plans for vacation or life event like a wedding
- Another round of recovery time during which you may require assistance from others until you heal
It was difficult enough to suffer through the symptoms associated with a failing hip replacement in the first place, which include pain and loss of mobility. After electing to go through one hip replacement surgery, you had the right to assume that these symptoms were things of the past. Now, because of a defective DePuy hip replacement, you may be forced to undergo more tests and deal with all the associated inconveniences and costs. In addition, many patients will have to endure a revision surgery all because of DePuy’s negligence.