Hip Implant Recall: What You Need to Know

DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that makes medical devices, has announced a recall of two different hip replacement systems, the ASR XL acetabular system and the ASR hip resurfacing system. The recall was prompted by an abnormally high "revision" rate, with about 13 percent of those who have had the hip implanted later having to have it removed. It is estimated that almost 95,000 people have received these implants worldwide since 2003.

The symptoms and causes of hip implant failure are varied and serious. Muscle fatigue, inflammation and swelling, and difficulty walking are the most common indicators. The causes may include a loosening of the implant because of improper positioning or dislocation of the implant components because of a design flaw, both of which make it harder and more painful to move.

Another serious complication can arise from the friction generated by the metal on metal design of the device, which can lead to the release of chromium and cobalt ions into the bloodstream that then gather in the surrounding tissue. These ions can cause inflammation, which, in turn, can cause a loss of bone matter (called "bone resorption") that severely weakens, and possibly even debilitates, the hip. Elevated levels of metallic ions may also cause the patient to suffer nerve damage.

If you suspect that you have received one of the recalled implants or if you exhibit any of these symptoms, consult your doctor about it immediately. Also consult a lawyer, who can help you bring a claim for your injuries within the time allowed.