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Seeger Weiss Blog: Legal News and Analysis

Category : Hip Implants

Guide to Filing a Hip Replacement Lawsuit

January 10th, 2013

According to The New York Times, an estimated 500,000 individuals have undergone a surgery involving a metal-on-metal hip implant. A quality hip implant is usually expected to last for approximately 15 to 20 years, depending on the patient’s activity level, fitness level and general health.

Many hip replacement patients, however, find that their implants begin to show signs of failure in a matter of a few short years. These patients have begun pursuing legal action against the manufacturers of these defected implants, but they need to first equip themselves with the necessary information before heading to court.

How to Find Out if You Have Been Affected by a Defective Hip Implant

The majority of hip implant patients have become accustomed to chronic pain and stiffness over the course of many years. In fact, these two symptoms are the most commonly cited reasons for the decision to have hip implant surgery in the first place. Unfortunately for many hip implant patients, the familiar pain associated with hip problems before the surgery may never actually improve, particularly if the implant used is defective.

Symptoms of a potentially defective or dangerous hip implant include:

  • Noticeable swelling that does not respond to anti-inflammatory medications
  • Unusual warmth in the area surrounding the implant
  • Difficulty when walking, bending, sitting down or getting up
  • Pain and stiffness that do not go away with proper medication and rest

Complications that arise from a defective hip implant may grow to be incredibly serious when not addressed in a timely manner. Corrosion of metal-on-metal components in an implant can allow minute particles of metal into the blood stream and into the tissue at the implant site. Severe cases can lead to tissue death around the implant, dangerously high levels of cobalt and chromium in the blood, and substantial bone loss.

List of Recalled Hip Implants

All hip replacement and hip surgery patients are strongly encouraged to consult their surgeons and medical records to determine what type of device was used during their procedure. Though many surgeons are able to reach their patients with relevant recall information relatively quickly after the information has been made available to them, not all patients are made aware of the potential danger they face. The following is a list of some recalled hip implants over recent years:

If you or a loved one have undergone hip surgery and have suffered adverse effects because of the type of implant used, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit concerning defective implants varies from state to state, so quick and decisive action is strongly recommended.

A product injury lawyer is a legal professional with experience in pursuing financial compensation for injuries or death caused by faulty products. Your attorney will help you make the important decisions regarding your case from start to finish, as well as make sure that you are awarded a fair amount of money for your pain, suffering and medical expenses. Don’t allow multi-billion dollar businesses to take advantage of you in your time of need. Even if you have not yet begun to experience side effects associated with your hip implant, it is important to obtain a legal consult immediately in order to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

Types of Hip Implants and Types of Hip Replacement Procedures

January 9th, 2013

Total hip replacements are performed to treat a variety of conditions affecting the hip joint, including degenerative joint disease, arthritis, congenital hip dysplasia, and physical trauma. Hip ailments are more common in elderly people, but younger people can suffer from these conditions as well. Besides various diseases of the joints, physical trauma usually occurs due to falls, auto accidents, or other acute injuries.

The hip is a ball and socket joint. The hip bone itself has a rounded gap, or socket, which the rounded ball of the femur, or thigh bone, fits into. This type of joint has a lot of flexibility as the joint can swivel in any direction. This is why hips can bend in more directions than knees or elbows, for example. It also makes broken hips particularly difficult to heal, which is why surgical intervention is sometimes necessary to promote mobility.

Types of Hip Implants

  • Metal on polyethylene implants. This is the most common type of implant. In this method, both the ball and socket portions of the joint are removed and replaced with a metal prosthesis. A polyethylene spacer is then placed between them. The metal used is usually titanium-aluminum, stainless steel or cobalt-chrome. These implants do wear down over time, so subsequent replacements may be necessary in patients who live a long time post-surgery. A relatively new type of polyethylene is quite popular now due to its strength and durability. These new implants rely on a wear-resistant type of plastic that is manufactured to be stronger than regular polyethylene. Because these implants are new, long-term studies have not been completed to determine whether they will truly wear down more slowly than other types of implants
  • Metal on metal implants. These work similarly to the above type, but there is no plastic spacer between the metal elements. This reduces the amount of wear that the artificial hip takes, but it does pose a potential risk to patients due to the release of metal ions into the patient’s bloodstream.
  • Ceramic on ceramic implants. These implants use ceramic pieces for the ball and socket portions of the joint. Ceramic is much less prone to wear than metal or plastic, but it can be brittle and prone to breaking.

Regardless of the materials used, the implant will generally be held in place with a special type of medical cement. It may also be wedged into place without cement so that the bone can heal over the implant and hold it in place.

Types of Hip Replacement Procedures

Surgeons utilize a variety of surgical options to address pain experienced by patients suffering from diseases of the hip joints. These options include total hip replacements where an artificial ball, socket, and stem is implanted into the joint to replace the existing diseased or damaged bone. Surgeons may also perform a total hip resurfacing where an artificial ball and socket is implanted, but the stem is very short in length and does not penetrate deep into the femoral bone. A resurfacing procedure is generally less invasive than a total hip replacement. Surgeons may also perform a partial hip replacement, also known as a hemi-arthroplasty, in which only the ball is replaced with an artificial implant. For physical trauma, depending on the extent of an injury, a broken hip can sometimes be healed naturally by limiting a patient’s movement. More serious injuries may require surgical intervention.

A traditional hip replacement surgery requires an incision through either upper thigh or buttocks of the patient. Less-invasive techniques use smaller incisions and specialized instruments to complete the procedure.  Regardless of the procedure completed or the materials used, a hip replacement surgery takes time and therapy to recover from. Some complications can arise if the new hip does not form a strong attachment to the existing bone. The patient may also continue to experience pain in the joint long after recovery is over. Fortunately, as technology improves, hip replacement surgeries become more effective.

Information on the recall of Stryker hip implants

Seeger Weiss LLP