Last January the New York Times published an op-ed piece titled Can Your Hip Replacement Kill You? It featured the story of Dr. Stephen Tower, an orthopedic surgeon who, in 2006, received a Johnson & Johnson metal-on-metal hip implant after his right hip gave out. Five years later, he was in so much pain that he underwent another surgery to have the device removed and replaced.
The surgeon who performed the second operation was shocked by what he saw when he opened Dr. Tower’s hip: it looked like a crankcase of oil had burst and turned the surrounding tissue black. A severe cobalt leak from his Johnson & Johnson implant device had caused metallosis, which is a build-up of metal debris in the soft tissues of the body.
In Dr. Tower’s case, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the hip area were destroyed. So were his heart and brain.
Hip Replacement: A Common Risk?
Over 300,000 hip replacement surgeries are carried out in the United States every year. Officially known as total hip arthroplasty, it is an invasive surgical procedure in which an orthopedic surgeon replaces an affected hip joint with an artificial implant made from plastic or metal.
There are presently over 2.5 million Americans who have undergone hip replacement to relieve arthritis pain or correct joint damage due to a fractured hip.
At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, doctors found that patients with osteoarthritis of the hip who were treated with hip replacement surgery had reduced risk of depression, diabetes, and heart failure compared to those who declined treatment.
Unfortunately, a hip replacement does not deliver relief to everyone. When artificial hip components fail, patients can experience more pain than ever. Sometimes follow-up surgeries are necessary to correct the complications.
Zimmer VerSys Femoral Stem Replacement Issues
Zimmer Biomet manufactures a large percentage of the artificial components used in hip replacement surgeries. The Zimmer VerSys Femoral Stem has been connected to instances of mechanically assisted crevice corrosion which occur when the femoral stem sheds chromium and cobalt particles into the bloodstream, resulting in metal poisoning.
A group of Maine orthopedic surgeons published a medical journal article calling attention to this problem, which was said to be limited to the Zimmer VerSys Femoral Stem with the 12 or 14mm taper size.
Complications from the Zimmer VerSys Femoral Stem included:
- Severe local tissue reaction to the chromium and cobalt particles
- Elevated cobalt levels in the blood
- Osteolysis, otherwise known as thinning bones
What’s the Bottom Line?
If you developed metal toxicity and required revision surgery after receiving the Zimmer VerSys Hip System, contact Fales & Fales, P.A. for a case review. The following documentation will be needed to help us determine if you have a claim:
- Any available pictures
- The office chart from the orthopedic surgeon
- The operative reports for the original surgery and the revision surgery
- The device record containing the product and lot numbers of the device components
Our team of experienced hip replacement attorneys will use its skills and experience to help you.