No one wants to have a portion of their body removed and replaced with a foreign object, but sometimes that is the best course of action to address a malfunctioning body part. This is just the case with a hip replacement. When the hip joint has become too affected by arthritis – making it painful just to move around, let alone play soccer! – and all other treatment options have failed, a hip replacement is the recommended course of action.
A hip replacement entails surgery in which the body is opened up, the hip joint removed, and an artificial hip joint composed of metal and plastic is inserted in its place. Patients are given general anesthesia for hip replacements, which renders a person completely unconscious for the entirety of the procedure. There are two kinds of hip replacements: a tradition style and a less invasive technique. Hip replacements may entail blood loss, so if you are leery about using another person’s blood you may want to donate your own before the operation. Consult your doctor on the specifics of hip replacement surgery.
WHAT TO EXPECT FOLLOWING HIP REPLACEMENT SURGERY
A hip replacement is a major surgery requiring about 4-6 days recovery in the hospital. During the weeks following the surgery you will need a cane, crutches or walker to get around. Physical therapy to recover from the surgery and regain optimal use of your hip is usually recommended. While all this can be time-consuming and physically taxing, the good news is that successful hip replacements resolve the painful condition of the hip and restore a much larger capacity for locomotion.
However, strenuous behaviors are not recommended for up to a year following the surgery, so that the hip can fully recover.
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SIDE EFFECTS & DANGERS OF HIP REPLACEMENTS
While complications during hip replacement surgery are rare, they do occur. Because the body is incised and opened up to remove the hip joint and replace it with an artificial one, excessive blood loss and infection are possible. There are also certain risks associated with the use of general anesthesia, including stroke, heart attack, pneumonia, and cognitive confusion or disorientation following surgery—however, side effects of general anesthesia are very rare.
Hip replacement side effects and complications include:
- Length of leg may change slightly, causing unequal length of legs
- The new artificial joint can be dislocated if you sit or move in an awkward fashion
- Fat from bone marrow may dislodge, enter the bloodstream and travel to the lungs, where it can cause serious breathing problems
- Nerve injury may occur in the hip area due to post-operative swelling, causing numbness
- Hip replacement parts may break and can become infected
- Implant may fail significantly earlier than anticipated
- Device was marketed as safe but caused unforeseen problems and complications
- Need for additional and avoidable surgeries to fix problems
PROBLEMS WITH METAL ON METAL HIP REPLACEMENTS
One of the most common problems of hip replacements occurs in operations that use metal materials, typically combining chromium and cobalt, in both the ball and socket of the artificial hip joint. This specific version of the hip replacement implant is known as the ASR Acetabular hip implant, sometimes also referred to as a hip resurfacing system.
Although these materials were initially thought to be more durable than ceramic and plastic components, there have been numerous cases in which metal on metal friction has caused metallic debris to break off from the artificial hip joint and be absorbed into the blood stream.
Once in the blood stream, a condition known as metallosis can develop, causing severe pain, swelling and blood poisoning. While about 85% of all hip replacements will last for 20 years, hip replacements utilizing metal on metal components tend to breakdown much more rapidly, sometimes in just a few years.
HIP REPLACEMENT LAWSUIT
Due to problems and complications associated with hip replacement surgery, there are currently over 13,000 pending hip replacement lawsuits in the United States. In 2013, Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the metal on metal hip implant, paid upwards of $2.5 billion to thousands of injured patients.
If you have had a metal on metal hip replacement and experienced any problems or complications you are likely a good candidate for a personal injury lawsuit. A hip replacement personal injury lawsuit may enable you to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered as a result of complications due to your hip replacement surgery. According to product liability law, a manufacturer of any product that causes harm to patients, while also failing to warn of the dangers involved in using the device, may be held liable for damages caused to consumers. Causing harm and failure to warn of risks is known as negligence because it represents a failure to act with reasonable care to ensure the safety of the consumer or patient.