Man Describes Ordeal With Recalled Johnson & Johnson Hip Implant

Following hip replacement surgery three years ago, Scott Almhjell, continues to suffer. According to AZFamily, Almhjell, a Gulf War veteran suffering from an unrelated degenerative disorder was implanted with a now-recalled <"">Johnson and Johnson DePuy hip replacement device.

“I have a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old and a 15-year-old and, you know, not being able to be as active as them has been hard,” he said, quoted AZFamily. Scott describes how he has felt since he underwent the surgery saying, “It almost felt like it wasn’t hinged or something,” Scott said. “I would have this, sort of, goofy walk,” he added. Scott just learned about the recall, saying, “I was kind of in shock,” reported AZFamily.

We just wrote about two devices recalled by beleaguered pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), its tenth this year. This time, the recall is through J&J’s artificial joint business, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., which just recalled its ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR XL Acetabular System, two of its <"">DePuy hip replacement products. According to an Associated Press report last month, both devices indicated “higher-than-expected” incidences of repeat surgery, citing emerging data. AZFamily noted that DePuy said 93,000 people have been implanted with these products.

David Tallman, a naturopathic doctor specializing in other options to invasive joint replacement surgery explained, “When the grinding gets so severe, it makes it difficult for them to walk, to even stand for a few minutes …. So, that’s when they basically have to remove the bone and then put in the replacement.” In the case of the recalled devices, about one in eight patients are needing follow-up surgery to replace poorly fitting devices, estimates AZFamily. The figure is expected to increase.

Typical hip replacement surgery costs around $30,000.

The DePuy hip replacement recall comes as no surprise. In June we wrote that some orthopedic surgeons were souring on metal-on-metal hip implants, like the Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR system. A survey then found that a significant number of surgeons said they planned to reduce their use of the devices.

In the U.S., metal-on-metal hip implants are used in roughly 250,000 of all hip replacements annually and are also used in hip resurfacing procedures. The implants, whose ball-and-socket joints are made from metals like cobalt and chromium, were believed more durable than earlier devices.

Hip implants should last about 15 years; however, a New York Times investigation published earlier this year found that, in many cases, metal-on-metal hip implants require replacement surgery within a year or two. According to the report, studies indicate that hip implants can quickly wear, generating high volumes of metallic debris that is absorbed into a patient’s body, leading to soft-tissue and bone destruction.

In March, Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics warned that one of its ASR implant devices appeared to have a high early failure rate. According to U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records, since early 2008, it received about 300 complaints against DePuy on the ASR involving patients in the U.S.

In April, European regulators announced they would be conducting a review of 40,000 metal-on-metal hip replacements over fears the devices could cause non-cancerous tumors and tissue damage.

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