Joint replacement surgery has become more and more common as our population continues to age, with over 270,000 hip replacement surgeries performed each year. As the designs for hip implants have evolved over the years, the metal-on-metal design appeared to be the perfect solution for younger, more active people. Unfortunately, defects in these designs have come to light over the past few years, particularly the risk of metallosis in hip replacement recipients.
While several metal-on-metal hip implants have been officially recalled, sales of the Zimmer DuromAcetabularComponent were voluntarily suspendedin July of 2008. These actions were taken after the company received reports from surgeons of a higher-than expected rate of loosening among the Zimmer Duron cups. Since it gained FDA approval in 2006 until the implant sales were suspended, over 12,000 people in the United States received a Zimmer Duron metal hip implant.
Like many other metal-on-metal hip implants, the Zimmer Duron Acetabular Component hip implant causes tiny metal ions to shear away from the implant during periods of activity as the components rub against one another. These metal shards then become lodged in surrounding tissues or enter the bloodstream. The natural response of the body is to immediately attempt to protect itself from what it considers a foreign substance by sending special white blood cells to trap and eliminate the metals and prevent them from spreading further. The human body, however, simply doesn’t have the level of defense needed to fight against the continuous introduction of cobalt and chromium.
The first sign of metallosis is often pain in the hip or groin area caused by inflammation in the tissues surrounding the implant once the metal ions have burrowed into those tissues. Limited mobility may set in, and, as the toxic metals continue to build up, bone loss and tissue death can occur, leading to loosening and a total failure of the implant. When this occurs, revision surgery becomes necessary. Other symptoms of metallosis may include one or more of the following:
- Alterations in DNA
- Gastrointestinal and skin disorders
- Cardiovascular, renal and thyroid issues
- Vision and hearing disturbances
- Neurological issues including loss of memory
- Emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and irritability
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Pseudo tumors which require a surgical procedure
All those who are recipients of the Zimmer DuromAcetabular Component should make an appointment with their doctor to discuss any side effects they are experiencing as well as any potential side effects. Blood levels should be tested often and it could be advisable to seek information and assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney.