Metal on metal hip implant devices have placed an untold number of people at risk, as the grinding of material during movement can lead to the contamination of blood with toxic levels of heavy metals. The buildup of metal in the blood is called metalosis— or metal poisoning— and can have life altering or ending consequences that include severe physical pain, disability, damage to the nervous system and death. These risks were never disclosed to patients, and thousands of claims have been filed against the leading manufacturers of metal on metal hip replacement products due to instances of metalosis linked to hip prosthetics.
The Types of Metal Used in Metal on Metal Hip Replacement Systems are Extremely Dangerous
When pieces of metal grind against one another, very small shavings can be produced that may harm surrounding tissue or make their way into the blood. Our blood already has different metallic compounds within it, but certain metals are toxic to our cells. Those metals, which are found in metal on metal devices include cobalt, chromium, titanium, nickel and molybdenum.
While some people are far more sensitive to these heavy metals than others are, the long term buildup of any toxic metal in the blood is due to have a negative impact on someone’s health. Victims have reported complications ranging from skin diseases to nerve damage to organ damage or even death. The range of conditions that result includes the following.
- Cardiomyopathy— since metalosis can impact the nervous system, it can also impact the signals that are sent to the heart to make sure that it beats in proper rhythm. There are a number of heart conditions that may result.
- Loss of vision— there are varying degrees to which victims may experience vision loss, all the way to blindness.
- Thyroid disease— the thyroid regulates the body’s metabolism and poor thyroid function may cause weight gain, palpitations or mania.
- Loss of hearing— as with vision loss, the degree of hearing loss may vary depending on the extent of the poisoning, but victims may ultimately lose their hearing altogether.
- Mental health problems— metal poisoning can impair the brain in a number of ways. One of them is in the imbalance of signals that regulate our mood, causing conditions such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, mania and more.
- Neurological disorders— brain damage may also impede the ability to perform normal cognitive functions. Victims may suffer from memory loss, confusion, loss of motor function, inability to concentrate, loss of the ability to speak or understand others and more.
- Skin conditions— rashes are common side effects of metalosis along with a number of other skin diseases.
- Infections— any kind of poisoning weakens the body’s immune response and makes it much easier for people to suffer from infections or to catch communicable diseases.
Regular Blood Monitoring Required to Determine Whether Patients Require Removal of Devices
The risk of metalosis is so significant for patients who have received hip implants that have metal upon metal components that regular blood monitoring is strongly suggested to detect the presence of abnormal levels of toxic metals. Because so much care is needed to ensure patients do not suffer from very serious complications the public has very good reason to be concerned over the use of these metals in the devices to begin with.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed because plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers took the devices to market prior to confirming they were safe and then that they failed to warn the public of known risks and complications. For some, revision surgery may be the only way for them to completely eliminate the risk of metal poisoning and for many more, it is far too late.