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Hip replacements have been around for a few decades. In the 2000s, companies started manufacturing and pushing these metal-on-metal hip replacements, but it soon became evident that they had higher than normal failure rates. Additionally, people were complaining of hip pain and were presenting with elevated cobalt and chromium levels. Many had to undergo a revision surgery much sooner than was ever indicated by their original surgeons.

Typically, a traditional hip replacement could last for 10 to 15 years or longer; however, some people who have faulty metal-on-metal hip replacements had them revised within two or three years after the implantation.

Beginning of Issues with Replacements

In 2010, the DePuy ASR (DASR) was the first metal on metal hip replacement to be recalled. In 2013, there was a large settlement with many who had ASR implants and undergone a revision surgery.

There is another type of implant called the Biomet Magnum M2A. The Biomet was not issued a recall because the failure rate was not quite as high as the DASR. However, the manufacturers of Biomet reached a settlement with plaintiffs who would have a revision surgery by a certain date.

There was a recent verdict out of Texas for the DePuy Pinnacle, a cup liner that is believed to be faulty. A recent verdict was for several hundred million dollars for all individual plaintiffs who had undergone the DePuy Pinnacle placement and then had to have a revision surgery not long after implant.

Problematic Companies

The major companies that have manufactured problematic metal-on-metal hip replacements are DePuy, which has the ASR and the Pinnacle, Biomet which has the M2A Magnum, and Stryker which had a recall of some of its component parts not too long ago. The Wright Conserve hip replacement had some litigation as well. 

It is possible that metal-on-metal hip replacement manufacturers knew about the dangers associated with the replacements when they submitted the clinical trial data to get these products approved. Manufacturers sometimes try to settle the cases before a large jury verdict is reached. For example, when the DePuy Pinnacle trial took place, the jury awarded $500 plus million to all individual plaintiffs. That was not good news for DePuy and for the manufacturers of the Pinnacle. One way to keep that news out of press was by settling as many cases as possible. Often, there is a confidentiality agreement that prevents complainants from talking publicly in any capacity about the injuries they sustained.

Quite possibly, the manufacturers of these hip replacements were aware of the dangers. There is information from the clinical trials as they were testing these devices on patients so they knew or should have known it could cause harm and damage. That is one of the reasons these verdicts have been so harsh.

Medical Effects

The real issue with these hip replacements is the the design of the hip itself, as the metal ball and the metal socket rub against each other and release metal ions that cause an inflammatory response in the hips, resulting in metallosis, pain, and popping.

Some significant cases involve an individual, who was fairly young and healthy beforehand, and had a metal-on-metal hip replacement resulting in cobalt and chromium levels that were extremely elevated, meaning their blood was slowly being poisoned. When someone has an extremely elevated cobalt chromium level and has metallosis, it can affect their body functions in many ways, it affects their overall health and their mobility, but most damaging, though, is that these health issues may require a revision surgery.

Anyone who has had a hip replacement knows that the recovery is not easy, and is very painful and difficult. Many people say that having a hip replacement revised or replaced again is 10 times worse. When someone has to go back in for revision surgery, it is a much more difficult procedure.