Weitz & Luxenberg informs the public about hip replacement implants
Hip replacement implants:
The three most widely used hip implant models are metal on plastic, metal on metal, and ceramic on ceramic. When deciding which of these is best suited for their patient, a medical professional will take age, overall quality of health, and the reason for the patient's hip surgery into consideration. In other words, the metal on plastic model may work for 20 year old Edward, who suffered a pelvic fracture in a sports accident, but it may not be suitable for 75 year old John, who underwent hip surgery due to bones weakened by age.
Disclaimer: Please note that Weitz & Luxenberg is not a medical institution. Please consult with your doctor or other medical professional before moving forward with any medical treatment or rehabilitation program.
Metal and plastic implant:
The patient’s femoral head is replaced with an artificial metal device consisting of titanium, cobalt chrome and stainless steel. A piece of plastic, known as polyethylene, is embedded between the femoral head and the acetabulum. In order to secure the metal and plastic parts to the pelvis, a medical professional will either press them into place manually, or utilize a special cement.
Cons: The polyethylene implant wears away with time, usually “at the rate of one millimeter per year,” (About.com) and has a life expectancy of approximately 10- 15 years. If the implant is a cross linked brand of polyethylene (a stronger, more durable model) it can last up to 20 years. However, both polyethylene types share the same con; they produce microscopic plastic particles that can irritate surrounding bones, nerves and other tissue. Regarding these plastic particles as foreign invaders, the body will secrete special enzymes which can loosen the implant and cause the surrounding bone to deteriorate. This is clinically referred to as Metallosis.
Metal on metal implant:
This implant was introduced in the United States in 2002 and its best asset is its durability. “Metal on metal implants wear at a rate of about 0.01 millimeters each year; about 10 times less than the metal and plastic model.” (About.com)Generally, a patient that receives this implant can enjoy a broader range of activity than someone with a metal and plastic implant.
Cons: Some medical professionals have stated that “the long term frictional release of metal ions from the implant might cause considerable harm to the human body.” (Hip and Knee Institute) For example, if a person is allergic to any metal materials, they can suffer from painful skin rashes and welts, swelling of the hip joint and chronic pain. If these symptoms are severe and debilitating enough, the patient may have to undergo corrective surgery so that the metal implant can be replaced with a plastic one. Unfortunately, as already explained, the plastic model has its own shortcomings.
Note: The recently recalled DePuy hip implants were metal on metal systems. They caused a bevy of medical complications for patients across the country, most of which could only be reversed through corrective surgery.
Ceramic on ceramic implant:
The ceramic used in this implant model is not to be confused with the kind used in pottery. A patient and their medical professional might decide to use ceramic implants because they are scratch resistant, emit no metallic ions into surrounding tissue and they are far more durable than metal implants. If 22 year old Sally needs hip replacement surgery, her medical professional may advise a ceramic implant, so that if she decides to get pregnant, the metallic ions will not affect the fetus’ development.
Cons: Like the metal and plastic models, ceramic implants can break apart, “leaving behind shards that damage the hip joint.” Fortunately, the chances of this occurring are slim. Studies show that there is only a “1 in 25,000 risk of ceramic fracture.” (The Hip and Knee Institute)
Weitz & Luxenberg: Leading defective medications and medical devices attorneys
Weitz & Luxenberg updates these pages with the latest available information on issues pertaining to hip replacement surgery, including the recalled DePuy hip implants. If you have experienced complications following traditional hip replacement surgery, and would like to know what legal avenue to pursue, please contact Weitz & Luxenberg.
The Hip and Knee Institute: http://www.hipsandknees.com/hip/hipimplants.htm
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