Perhaps the fastest growing segment of the medical device industry is the prosthetic devices used to replace hip joints, knee joints, and shoulders. While some of these medical devices have provided comfort and benefit to patients who suffer from arthritis and other chronic joint ailments, other devices have failed leading to revision surgeries and total replacements. These revision surgeries are difficult, complex and can be painful.
Recently, the hip replacement failure rate has become such an issue that the Food and Drug Administration has demanded that all medical device companies submit their replacement hips for review. DePuyOrthopaedics, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has been a particular concern because of their metal-on-metal hip replacement failures. Such hip failures have led to hip replacement recalls and hip replacement lawsuits. In fact, there have been so many DePuy ASR XL hip implant lawsuits that the courts have consolidated the lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation in Ohio. While these metal-on-metal hip replacements were designed to last longer and provide more flexibility than the older versions, their failure rates and need for revision surgeries have led to a hip recall of these products. Besides failure, the hips can potentially cause a medical condition known as metallosis wherein parts of the metal components grind against each other and dislodge, entering the bloodstream. Metallosis may be asymptomatic and anyone who has a metal-on-metal hip is advised to consult with a doctor to determine if a specific blood test to check for metallosis is warranted.