Millions of Americans have undergone joint replacement surgeries since the 1960s when these procedures were first introduced. Almost every joint in the body can be replaced, but the most common types of joint replacements involve knees, hips, and shoulders. A joint replacement procedure is known as an arthroplasty, and the procedure generally involves removal of damaged cartilage from the joint followed by resurfacing of the joint with a replacement implant. These implants are designed to perform like a normal joint, and the patient is supposed to return to a high level of activity within a few months of the replacement procedure. Unfortunately, complications are not rare in joint replacement procedures. Some studies have shown that as many as 40% of patients who have joint replacement surgery will experience complications.
Unfortunately there are a variety of complications that a patient can experience as a result of a joint replacement procedure. Some of the complications that a patient might experience can be related to the surgery itself, such as: Infections, Local tissue necrosis, bone deterioration, blood clots, nerve damage, inflammation, and bleeding. Other complications might be related to the implant: metallosis of the blood or the tissue surrounding the joint, loosening of the implant, fracturing of the implant, fracture or complete breakage of the prosthetic or its component parts, among many others.
Since the inception of joint replacement procedures, medical device companies have utilized a variety of different materials in designing their prosthetic joints. Prosthetic joints can be made of metal, polyethylene, ceramic or a combination of these materials. Metal-on-metal prosthetic devices have been particularly problematic. In some metal-on-metal devices, the component parts of the prosthetic slide against each other during physical activity and can actually release metal ions into the patient’s bloodstream or into the patient’s bone or soft tissues surrounding the joint. This process can cause serious injury to the patient. As a result of this problem, in January 2013 the FDA issued a public health warning concerning all metal-on-metal hip implants. Now, manufacturers must file applications containing scientific evidence showing that their devices are safe before they are allowed to sell the device in the United States.
How to Determine if Your Implant is Defective
In most cases, patients do not know the identity of the manufacturer and the specific prosthetic joint that they received. The drug and device attorneys at Franklin D. Azar and associates are experienced in identifying the particular device implanted in our clients and determining if the device is operating as it should. Please call our office for a free consultation.