Johnson & Johnson/DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR XL Acetabular System were recalled by the manufacturers on August 8, 2010, because of mounting evidence that the devices have higher-than-expected early failure rates.
The devices, intended to last around fifteen years, have a 12-13 percent failure rate within the first few years of implantation. This failure rate is roughly double the industry average. Some surgeons believe that the ASR hip implant has a basic design flaw that makes it difficult to implant.
Regardless of exactly why the devices fail, the result has been pain, suffering, and additional surgery for many recipients. The ASR units are in a class of hip replacement products known as metal-on-metal implants, a technology only about ten years old. Metal-on-metal implants became popular because they were believed to be superior to earlier implant devices. These units replace the bone “ball-and-socket” found in a natural hip with parts made of metals such as cobalt and chromium.
Metal-on-metal implants account for roughly one third of the 250,000 hip replacements performed in the United States each year. But many orthopedic surgeons are hesitant to continue using them because of the risk of tissue and bone damage they can cause.
Recipients of ASR devices specifically are injured when the hip replacement units begin to deteriorate prematurely. As they do, they can release flecks of toxic metal debris into the recipient’s bloodstream, which may lead to painful swelling and tumors. Some devices even come loose and fail completely. When this happens, the bone around the implant can fracture.
Only by receiving a complete medical diagnosis can you be sure that you are not in danger. This might include returning for an annual evaluation to make sure any ASR device you’ve had implanted continues to function safely. During your initial doctor’s visit, you can expect to have a blood test to measure the level of microscopic metal pieces surrounding your hip. If you have elevated metal particle levels, this could be an indication that your ASR hip is failing.
If your doctor does decide that your ASR replacement hip should be removed and replaced, your next step should be to speak to a DePuy hip recall lawyer. Although Johnson & Johnson has promised to reimburse recipients of ASR devices for all relevant testing and treatment (including, if necessary, a follow-up surgery), the simple fact is that this company has already betrayed your trust once.
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