An article published in The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a range of Smith & Nephew patients who continue to suffer from failed hip replacement and hip resurfacing devices even after revision surgery. One woman, from Charlton in Victoria, talks about the numerous health complications that stemmed from and persist after her Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing operation.
Smith & Nephew is a UK-based medical device manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Memphis, TN. Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System was approved in 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration, and hailed as a safer and more efficient alternative to the traditional total hip replacement system. With hip resurfacing, instead of replacing the entire femur with a prosthesis, a metal cap is placed over the existing bone along with a matching metal socket, With this technique, only a few centimeters of the original bone is removed, allowing patients to retain more of their bone structure. Other potential benefits of hip resurfacing include a reduced chance of hip dislocation and easier replacement or revision surgery if needed.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the woman, a resident of New South Wales was told that the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System, which cost almost $20,000, was “the Rolls-Royce of hips,” and “was expected to last 15 to 20 years.” And yet, only seven years later, the woman found herself in need of revision surgery. After 12 months of waiting and another $20,000 in revision surgery, her problems were only just beginning. According to the article, she developed a hacking cough, started vomiting bile, and experienced heart palpitations and feelings of overexertion.
What the woman was experiencing were the symptoms of metallosis. The cobalt and chromium in her Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System had been releasing various metal ions into her bloodstream and soft tissues. This toxic debris was a result of the metal-on-metal design of the implant. As with many other metal-on-metal hip implants, such as those produced by DePuy, Stryker, and Zimmer, when the metal components of the Birmingham System abrade against each other, metal particles are released into the body. Metallosis has been associated with extreme pain, dizziness, and fatigue, and can lead to loosening or dislocation of the implant, which requires revision surgery.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that although the woman was able to receive revision surgery, she was informed that “once the cobalt and chromium get into your body the damage has been done.” For her and many other patients who suffered from failed Smith & Nephew hip resurfacing implants, the effects of metallosis and other complications may cause health problems for the rest of their lives. In light of this, many affected individuals are now seeking compensation through Smith & Nephew resurfacing lawsuits.
In additional to its hip resurfacing devices, Smith & Nephew has also had problems with its total hip replacement products. In June 2012, Smith & Nephew recalled the optional metal liner component of its total hip replacement device, the R3 Acetabular System, due to high rates of failure. The R3 metal liner, which is inserted into the device’s metal pelvic socket, was originally designed for use with the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System. According to the FDA, the R3 Acetabular System was never cleared for use with the R3 metal liner. Plaintiffs in Smith & Nephew hip replacement lawsuits allege that the combination of these devices led to fractures, dislocation of the implant, and infection of the tissue around the hip joint.
Always make sure to consult your doctor or physician if you have any health concerns. If you or a loved one suffered from a failed Smith & Nephew hip resurfacing implant, contact the lawyers at Lopez McHugh to receive a free consultation. You may be eligible to receive compensation through a Smith & Nephew resurfacing lawsuit.