Zimmer Hip Implant Lawsuit | Zimmer Hip Lawsuit

Zimmer Hip Implant Lawsuit Plaintiffs Seek Damages for Metallosis

Staff Writer | March 13th, 2012

A common allegation from plaintiffs who have filed a Zimmer hip implant lawsuit is that metal-on-metal hip implants cause metallosis, or dangerously high metal ion levels in the bloodstream and tissue. Metallosis is caused by the shedding of fine metal particles from the wear of all-metal hip implants.

Zimmer hip implant lawsuit plaintiffs cite metallosis

Unlike traditional implants, which incorporate both plastic and metal components, all-metal implants recreate the hip joint with a metal ball that fits into a metal socket. As these components rub against each other during normal daily activities, particles of metal, including chromium and cobalt, can be released into the body. This metallic debris poses significant health risks to patients.

Though plaintiffs have cited metallosis in their Zimmer hip lawsuit complaints, the link between metal poisoning and Zimmer products has not been scientifically established. Neither the manufacturer nor the FDA has implemented a Zimmer hip replacement recall.

Metallosis and Zimmer hip implant lawsuit claims

In addition to the long-term health consequences of increased heavy metal levels in the bloodstream, metallosis can have a direct adverse effect on the tissue surrounding an all-metal implant.

As metal debris is shed into the body, specialized “scavenger” cells process the debris into biologically active metal ions. The metal ions interact with a patient’s tissue, provoking an immune response that can damage tissue within as little as two years.

In a recent New York Times article, this process was shown to result in what is described as “a biological dead zone.” Examining the area around one patient’s failed artificial hip, surgeons found, according to the Times, “matted strands of tissue stained gray and black; a large strip of muscle near the hip no longer contracted.”

Despite plaintiff claims, no Zimmer hip replacement recall

Though only a fraction of the 500,000 all-metal hips that have been implanted in U.S. patients have failed, studies suggest that the numbers may grow in the future. A recent analysis by the New York Times found that the FDA received over 5,000 complaints about all-metal hips during the first six months of 2011.

The likelihood of a Zimmer hip replacement recall is complicated by the fact that the scope of metallosis damage is not yet known. Extensive tissue damage can occur without obvious symptoms such as pain or discomfort. Further, the medical community is scrambling to identify accurate diagnostic tools for the problem. Some patients with high levels of metal in their blood may not have tissue damage, while others with low metal levels may be at risk.

As the number of Zimmer hip implant lawsuit plaintiffs grows nationwide, the FDA has ordered the manufacturers of all-metal hips to conduct studies into the causes of implant failure. However, results from those studies may not be available for some time. Until then, as the Times noted, doctors and patients are left to face a “medical problem playing out in baffling ways.”