Family Alleges Mother’s Fatal Brain Cancer Associated with DePuy ASR All-Metal Hip Implant

depuy-asr-hip-replacementBefore her death, a woman from India brought a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over its DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip implant device. She alleged the metal-on-metal hip device led to her deadly and aggressive brain cancer.

The woman’s family indicated that they will continue her fight, according to The Times of India. The woman underwent replacement hip surgery in 2007. After the surgery, the woman said she was in constant, daily pain, according to her daughter, and was forced into retirement. The device began emanating what were described as “crackling” sounds within five months of the surgery and the pain worsened, the woman’s daughter said. The woman, 72 at the time of her death, underwent DePuy-funded revision surgery in 2011 and was re-implanted with a device that was metal-on-ceramic. Her pain continued and, last November she received a diagnosis of a brain tumor, wrote The Times of India.

According to her family, the tumor came as a complete surprise. The family, which does not have a history of cancer, believes that the cancer was the result of an accumulation of cobalt and chromium from the DePuy hip device, The Times of India reported. Meanwhile, the DePuy ASR is made of chromium and cobalt and experts believe that the rubbing of the devices’ components against one another during normal activities, including walking, enable the shedding of these metals in the body.

In a prior The New York Times report, serious side effects that do not appear to be related to a typical diagnosis may be attributed to metal-on-metal hip devices. One diagnosing physician compared his patient’s unusual combination of physical symptoms, including thyroid level issues, esophageal inflammation, a fever with no origin, severe vision and hearing loss, and serious cardiac issues that weakened his heart to the point that the organ could no longer sufficiently pump blood to his body, were believed caused by cobalt poisoning blamed on a metal-on-metal hip.

Another case that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, discussed a Colorado woman who suffered from a combination of ailments. “I was tired all the time,” she said, according to The New York Times. In addition to an unexpected weight gain, she also suffered a swollen abdomen, arms, and legs and a CT scan revealed that fluid was accumulating around her heart. Although consistent with cardiomyopathy, the symptoms did not lead to a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy. “It was kind of a puzzle to my first cardiologist,” she said.

When her heart was failing in 2011, she went to a heart failure and transplant specialist. “We did a work-up looking at possible causes and even rare causes…. Nothing showed up,” according to her physician. The woman underwent a heart transplant in September 2011. Her orthopedist later discovered, during routine blood testing, that her cobalt levels were more than 300 times greater than normal. A year later, both of her hip devices were replaced with polyethylene-lined devices and her cobalt level dropped, wrote The New York Times. The physician and colleagues wrote that cobalt poisoning should be considered in patients with metal-on-metal hip devices who present with symptoms consistent with the poisoning.

All-metal hips have been tied to high and premature failure rates and a number of alleged, adverse medical reactions, such as increased blood metal ion levels and metal poisoning; dislocations; pain; fracture; difficulty ambulating, rising, standing, and balancing; noise emanating from the joint; and pseudotumors, to name just some. Patients have also alleged debris from the chromium and cobalt hip device have led to tissue death and increased blood metal ion levels, according to a prior report.

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