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Can your hip replacement kill you?

If you underwent a hip replacement in California before 2014, you should be aware that in all likelihood you have a metal-on-metal medical device in your body. If you do, it could be infiltrating your organs and tissues with metal debris that ultimately could kill you.

As newspapers recently reported, a New York man, himself a surgeon, received a Johnson & Johnson ASR XL hip replacement in 2006. By 2011, his continuing hip pain was so severe that he and his surgical colleagues decided he must undergo a second operation. What they found when they opened him up resulted in his death sentence. The metal-on-metal device had leaked cobalt into his entire hip area. The consequent metallosis, that is, metal debris build-up, not only destroyed his surrounding ligaments, muscles and tendons, but also damaged his heart and brain.

Johnson & Johnson took its ASR XL model hip off the market in 2010, but continued selling its similar Pinnacle model until 2013. Close to 9,000 patients who received J&J metal-on-metal hips have sued Johnson & Johnson over its defective products. A jury recently awarded six New York plaintiffs a $247 million verdict.

Dangerous medical devices

Unfortunately, artificial hips represent only one of many medical devices that frequently fail, including the following:

  • Cardiac stents
  • Sprint Fidelis defibrillators
  • Heart valves
  • Vagus nerve stimulators
  • Pacemakers
  • Surgical mesh, including transvaginal mesh

If you have any type of medical device in your body, your best defense against its causing you grievous injury, pain or even death is to report any problems and symptoms you experience to your doctor as soon as they arise. In addition, watch carefully for recalls that alert you to possible dangers. Hundreds occur every year; 117 Class I medical devices were recalled in 2016 alone.

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