The Dangers of Using DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement

The hip joint, otherwise known as ball and socket joint, is one the human body’s largest joints. Its major function is to provide support to the upper body, bearing the upper body’s full weight while a person is standing, running or walking, as well as make bending, stretching and certain other movements possible, easy and devoid of pain.

While a healthy hip is capable of supporting a person’s weight, a damaged one (due to injury or disease), can affect a person’s movements. The hip is supported by strong and large thigh muscles, despite this it can be damaged, either by a forceful blow or by some sort of disorder inside the body. Some examples of this include: falls, which can cause hip fracture; osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which can result to the painful rubbing of the bones; and, rheumatoid arthritis, a result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the joints’ lining, causing inflammation in these joints.

When hip joints get damaged, it can be a source or persistent pain, besides making daily activities hard to accomplish. One traditional medical remedy that has been employed by surgeons since the 1960s, which has relieved patients from so much pain, is replacement of damaged hip joint/s with prosthesis, or artificial joint, thru hip replacement surgery. Prosthesis is meant to improve not only the quality of patient’s lives, but also the function of their hips and their ability to perform various activities.

In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement, one of the many products manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson as well as the first orthopaedic company in the US. This artificial metal-on-metal (MoM) replacement for the hip joint was intended as a longer lasting alternative to metal-on-plastic and metal-on-ceramic hip replacement systems due to its higher resistance against deterioration; since it could also withstand more vigorous activities, doctors saw it as as a more sound choice for patients who were younger and more active.

But while hip replacement systems are notorious for discharging tiny particles inside its host’s body whenever their two parts rub against one another, the effects of MoM systems are much more serious, so that those who have been implanted with these usually require reconstructive or replacement surgery in order to repair joint failure and tissues damaged by the device.

From 2008 to the present, recorded DePuy side effects may be classified under these two categories:

  1. Those that are not medically serious, but can affect a person’s quality of life and capacity in performing normal activities:
    • Difficulty with standing or walking due to hip dislocation or hip instability
    • Pain and inflammation on the implant area
    • Deterioration of muscle due to lack of physical activity
  2. Serious adverse events:
    • Metallosis or metal poisoning, which is caused by the accumulation of metal debris in the body’s soft tissues
    • Necrosis – bone and tissue death due to metallosis
    • Osteolysis –dissolution of bones or bone loss due to metallosis
    • Systemic metallosis –inflammation of the whole body due to presence of metal ions
    • Pseudotumors – development of tumor-like deposits around affected joints
    • Bone fracture – weakening of bones around hip implant resulting to their breakage

The high failure rates in its hip implants plus the new UK joint registry data, which indicate revision rates within 5 years on about 13 percent of all MoM DePuy systems implanted in patients, has made DePuy voluntarily recall its ASR XL Acetabular MoM hip replacement system on August 24, 2010. While this voluntary recall might have been a good move to save others from harm, it is a move too late for the hundreds of thousands of patients (in the US alone) who have already received the implant.

Defective medical devices make up only a small percentage of the frightening realities that continue to rock the medical field. While patients who are harmed because of the carelessness or negligence of certain individuals or parties have the legal right to pursue justice and seek compensation for all the damages they have been made to suffer, understanding first what the problem really is would be a big help in knowing what legal move to take. In the case of DePuy hip replacement system, visiting the web address: will allow victims know and understand the problem they may be caught in as well as their legal stance.

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