DePuy (pronounced DePew) Orthopaedics began a new phase of research in the late 1990s; more and more hip replacements were being performed on younger patients, and the company was looking to create a more durable product with a longer lifespan. Research and development efforts introduced a family of products starting in 2000 that had great promise; unfortunately, trouble was on the horizon.

A great idea with serious problems

The product lineup, which included the Pinnacle Hip Replacement System, the ASR XL Acetabular System total hip replacement and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, featured a metal-on-metal (MoM) option intended to provide more flexibility and durability for younger patients. Unfortunately, the design had serious flaws.

Problems began to arise very shortly; revision surgery was necessary to correct pain, grinding, bone fractures, and dislocations (among other issues). A major complication was metallosis, or heavy metal poisoning, a result of the MoM contact. Metallosis is the result of friction in the joint that releases cobalt ions into the surrounding tissue, requiring surgical intervention to correct. Metallosis can cause:

  • Cardiomyopathy (heart problems), including heart failure
  • Visual impairment that may lead to blindness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Nerve problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Auditory impairment that may lead to deafness
  • Necrosis (tissue or bone death)
  • Skin rashes
  • Infection

Worse, research recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found a correlation between the DePuy implants and heart failure. According to Healio, “Men who underwent primary hip arthroplasty with a specific, conventional large-head metal-on-metal implant by a single manufacturer

[DePuy] had almost double the risk of heart failure than men who received a metal-on-polyethylene implant after rates were adjusted for age.”

What’s all the hubbub, bub?

According to the US Food & Drug Administration, DePuy issued a voluntary recall of the hip replacement system in August of 2010. So why all the buzz? As it turns out, the UK joint registry found that the rate of revision surgery for the implant within 5 years were about 13%, or slightly over 1 in 10. Over 93,000 people received the implant until it was recalled, and the recall came at the height of the products’ popularity. It’s safe to assume that the risk doesn’t decrease with time; the rash of recent lawsuits will likely only increase in the future.

If you or someone you know has received a DePuy brand hip replacement in the past, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced Tennessee defective medical device attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and protect your rights. Visit one of our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville, or contact us today for a free consultation.