Could DePuy ASR Hip Implant Recipients Face More Health Woes in Future?

Could it be that the DePuy ASR hip implant nightmare is only just beginning? It’s very possible that we have yet to see the full fallout from the defective DePuy ASR hip implant. <"">DePuy hip replacement recipients who haven’t yet experienced problems with their ASR implant could still be vulnerable to health issues in the future.

Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit issued a worldwide recall for the ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it. By then, more than 93,000 patients worldwide were fitted with an ASR hip implant. It is believed that roughly a third of those were patients in the U.S.

The ASR Hip Implant System is a metal-on-metal hip implant made of chromium and cobalt, consisting of a cup that’s implanted into the hip with a ball joint that connects to the leg. It is believed that many of the DePuy hip replacement complications linked to the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular hip implant are caused by wearing of the metal components, which can allow metal shavings to make their way into patients’ bloodstreams, leading to tissue breakdown, bone loss, and even the formation of non-cancerous tumors. The shedding of metal shavings can cause cobalt poisoning, a disorder that, if left untreated, can put patients at risk of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism.

Although not as likely to occur as metallosis or cobalt poisoning, pseudotumors and cancer remain possible symptoms for patients who have received a DePuy ASR Hip Implant. Pseudotumors are a soft mass of tissue that form in response to a toxic reaction to the excess metal debris and can be a fluid-filled sac or a solid mass. Such tumors have been found around the hip implant site of DePuy ASR patients.

Another adverse reaction the body can have to excess metal debris is the onset of cancer. While this is an unsettling and, at this point, theoretical development, some medical researchers speculate that there may be a scientifically valid link between the chromium contained in DePuy hip implants and cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says chromium is a cancer causing agent. While the chromium contained in DePuy ASR hip components were originally designed to shield the chromium parts from the rest of the body, the excess metal debris generated by latent defects have increased chromium exposure in some patients. Only time will tell if these defective implants are putting patients at risk for cancer.

The DePuy ASR hip implant is a relatively new device, having only come on the market in 2003. That it has already been responsible for so much pain and suffering is astounding. What problems its defective metal-on-metal design could cause patients in the future is especially worrisome.

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