DePuy Orthopaedic’s Pinnacle Hip Replacement System allows surgeons to choose between a metal liner, ceramic liner, or polyethylene liner. The allegations made in DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits involve Pinnacle devices that utilize the metal liner. It was thought that all-metal hip implants would be more durable and longer-lasting than other implants made from ceramic or plastic components. However, many plaintiffs in DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits claim that their device failed within just a few years of their initial surgery.
It is believed that the problems associated with the metal-on-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip replacements occur when metal particles from the device are shed in the patient’s surrounding tissue, increasing the levels cobalt and chromium in blood, tissue and organs. The metal particles can build up in the soft tissue surrounding the hip, giving rise to a condition known as metallosis. This can result in tissue death, bone deterioration and loosening of the implant.
A recent report from the National Joint Registry in Great Britain found that nearly 14% of patients who received a metal-on-metal replacement required revision (removal or replacement of joint) within 7 years. This is compared to only a 3% revision in patients who received a joint made of plastic during the same follow-up time. Symptoms of a failed DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement or other malfunctioning metal-on-metal implant include:
- Swelling at or near the hip joint
- Pain in the hip, groin or leg
- Loss of mobility
- Loosening of the hip replacement device
- Difficulty standing or walking
- Additional hip revision surgery
In the May 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was reviewing the safety of metal-on-metal hip implant devices. According to the agency, there were concerns that such devices could shed dangerous amounts of metal debris in patients, leading to adverse local tissue reactions and premature device failure. The agency also said that some metal-on-metal hip implant patients with high levels of chromium and cobalt in their blood have experienced symptoms or illnesses elsewhere in the body, including effects on the heart, nervous system, and thyroid gland.