March 20, 2017 - What is Metallosis? If you have been implanted with a metal hip implant, you have probably heard the term “metallosis,” even if you do not have a recalled metal hip. Metallosis is a condition which occurs when the metal components of a hip device rub against one another during periods of activity, shearing away microscopic metal shards. When those tiny metal ions begin building up in the soft tissues of the body, serious, adverse health effects can result. In particular, many metal hip stems are comprised of titanium, which, although a relatively hard metal, is not as hard as the cobalt and chromium the neck component is made of. When pairing mismatched metals, it is much more likely metal ions will shear away from the device. The primary symptoms of metallosis include:
· Tissue and bone necrosis;
· Implant loosening;
· Chronic, sometimes severe pain in the hip, thigh and groin;
· Grey discoloration in the hip tissues surrounding the metal implant, and
· Inflammation and swelling around the implant.
Some physicians feel that those who are generally more sensitive to metals may be more likely to develop metallosis when implanted with a metal hip device. Symptoms of metallosis typically evolve over a period of months, but are usually present with the first four years following the initial hip device implantation. Pain may not always be an accurate method of diagnosing metallosis, since approximately 18 percent of those with a hip implant will experience groin pain, but only 2-5 percent of those will have metallosis.
In some case, the metal ions which shear away from a DePuy Pinnacle hip device can travel to the bloodstream, causing such issues as:
· Cardivascular, thyroid, renal and neurological problems;
· Depression, irritability and anxiety;
· Visual and hearing impairments or loss;
· Reproductive disorders;
· Skin rashes;
· Gastrointestinal disorders;
· Chronic headaches;
· The formation of pseudo-tumors
· Changes in DNA, and
· Certain types of cancers.
Are Some Patients at a Higher Risk of DePuy Pinnacle Hip Metallosis?
According to the FDA, some recipients of a metal hip implant could be at a higher risk of developing adverse events from the metal ions which are released from the Pinnacle (or other metal) device. These include:
· Patients with bilateral implants;
· Patients who have suppressed immune systems;
· Patients with a suspected metal sensitivity;
· Patients who have prior evidence of renal issues;
· Patients who are obese;
· Patients who are extremely active, and
· Patients whose hip device components are not properly aligned.
Will I Know If I Have DePuy Pinnacle Hip Metallosis? What are the Treatments?
You may or may not know if you have DePuy Pinnacle hip metallosis, as every person reacts differently to a buildup of metals in the body. Your physician will take x-rays, measure the levels of cobalt and chromium in your body, and possibly order an MRI to determine whether you have DePuy Pinnacle hip metallosis. Although there have been some studies on chelation therapy as a method of removing excess metals from the body, excess cobalt cannot be chelated from the joint or fluid. The only proven treatment for DePuy Pinnacle hip metallosis is revision surgery—removal of the Pinnacle and replacement with a safer alternative.
DePuy Pinnacle Hip Metallosis Claimed in Lawsuits
In March 2016, a federal Texas jury awarded $500 million to five individuals who suffered injuries from a DePuy Pinnacle hip device. All five of the plaintiffs experienced pain and other complications from DePuy Pinnacle metallosis. In December 2016, a second Texas jury awarded six Pinnacle plaintiffs more than $1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs in this case claimed DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were aware of the Pinnacle’s dangers and design flaws, yet failed to warn doctors and patients about the potential risks. The number of Pinnacle hip lawsuits is nearing 9,000, although J & J stopped selling the Pinnacle in 2013, after artificial hip regulations were tightened by the FDA.
Getting the Help You Need for Your DePuy Pinnacle Hip Metallosis
If you have been diagnosed with DePuy Pinnacle Hip Metallosis or you have had any problems with your DePuy Pinnacle hip, it is important that you speak to an experienced Pinnacle hip attorney as soon as possible--your rights may not be protected if you do not speak to a knowledgeable DePuy Pinnacle hip attorney. If you have suffered injuries from a DePuy Pinnacle hip device, it may be in your best interests to contact a DePuy Pinnacle Hip attorney today.