A Northern Ireland man has become the first in his country to file a lawsuit against DePuy Orthopaedics after he received a defective Pinnacle all-metal hip implant.
According to The Belfast Telegraph, Austin Willis recently filed his claim against the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson after receiving a second hip replacement implant in almost as many years. He joins thousands of others around the world to claim his metal-on-metal hip implant caused him serious pain and other complications that ultimately led to it being removed in favor of another implant.
Willis received his DePuy Pinnacle implant in February 2009 as part of Northern Ireland’s state medical coverage. By that summer, he began experiencing nearly intolerable pain at the site of the implant but endured that for seven more months until an infection at the surgery site forced him to have the Pinnacle implant replaced in favor of an implant with ceramic components, opting to pay for the surgery on his own with a private surgeon. He received his second hip implant in February 2011, just two years after receiving his first.
Though Willis is the first in Northern Ireland to file a personal injury lawsuit against a manufacturer of a metal-on-metal implant due to complications caused by the device. He is one of thousands around the world however, to make similar claims. The DePuy Pinnacle is one of several metal-on-metal implants that’s led to serious and some life-threatening complications for recipients.
On the whole, metal-on-metal implants have been associated with a high early failure rate, leading to thousands of revision and replacement surgeries. Most often reported as complications caused by metal-on-metal hip implants is pain and inflammation at the site of the device. Infections, as were suffered by Willis, are also a common complication due to these implants. Moreover, all-metal implants like the DePuy Pinnacle and DePuy ASR devices have been linked to toxic metal poisoning among recipients.
Through normal wear-and-tear of the hip implant, small metal fragments are literally ground into the bloodstream and dispersed throughout the body. Many who’ve received these implants eventually discover deposits of the metals cobalt and chromium. If left unchecked, this accumulation of the metals can lead to muscle and tissue deterioration, organ damage, and eventual organ failure.
DePuy continues to market the all-metal version of the Pinnacle hip implant but it recalled the ASR model in August 2010 due to its connection with an extremely high early failure rate, documented as being anywhere between 13 and 30 percent. The Telegraph cites a BBC investigation indicating as many as 200 people in Northern Ireland will eventually be forced into a similar situation as Willis, based on those statistics.
Tens of thousands of people in the entire U.K. have received similar implants in recent years, when all-metal implants became the go-to design for the devices. They were touted as being an ideal fit for younger recipients because they’re more likely to last longer than traditional hip implants. Instead, the complete opposite is true with many not lasting half the time an older model would have.
People in the U.K. are slowly beginning to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of these defective hip implants as hundreds or more already have in the U.S. and around world. Nearly 100,000 people have received the DePuy ASR implant and thousands more, the Pinnacle model. It is believed as many as 30,000 people will eventually be forced to endure painful and costly revision or replacement surgeries to correct or replace their metal-on-metal hip implant.