Is Your Hip Replacement Holding You Back?

Hip replacement is the third most common inpatient surgery performed in Canada, with 55,300 hip replacements performed in 2020-2021 alone.

U.K.-based medical device company Smith & Nephew’s leading joint replacement technology has changed countless lives—unfortunately, not always for the better. Thousands of hip replacement joints have been recalled in the past decade due to high rates of revision surgeries and metal poisoning. Here is what you need to know.

Types of Hip Replacements

The human hip is a “ball and socket” joint. A total hip replacement, as the name suggests, removes the entire hip joint and replaces it with a hip implant. The hip implant includes a ball, socket, and a liner that fits into the socket. A partial hip replacement replaces the ball of the hip joint, but not the socket. Hip resurfacing involves trimming the ball-shaped bone in the hip joint and resurfacing it with a smooth metal covering, while damaged bone and cartilage in the hip socket is removed and replaced with a metal shell.

If the replacement ball and socket are both made of metal, this is called a metal-on-metal (MoM) hip implant. Metal-on-metal hip implants tend to be sturdier and longer lasting than plastic-on-metal implants and can offer patients benefits such as wider range of motion, a more normal gait pattern, and lower likelihood of dislocation. But when these metal components malfunction, they can have devastating consequences.

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Dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants

The friction that occurs when metal-on-metal implant components rub together has been found to deposit metal fragments into surrounding tissue, leading some patients to develop metal poisoning, also known as metallosis. Metallosis symptoms include confusion, headaches, dizziness, and burning, tingling and numbness in the extremities. Metal poisoning can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Cobalt poisoning
  • Joint dislocation
  • Bone deterioration
  • Extreme pain
  • Bone and tissue necrosis
  • Loosening of the implant
  • Failure of the implant

These complications can require revision surgeries, which are not only complex and risky, but also expensive.

Smith & Nephew Lawsuits

Since 2013, several Smith & Nephew hip replacement models have been the subject of lawsuits. Following the company’s recall of 4,000 metal socket liners used in the R3 Acetabular Systems over reports of loosening, pain, device failure, infection, metal sensitivity and dislocation associated with the device, Smith & Nephew settled a number of legal claims about the product. In 2016, Smith & Nephew also recalled 2,000 Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip Systems due to “higher than anticipated complaint and adverse event trend.” Additionally, many lawsuits—including 600 cases pending in a U.S. multidistrict litigation (MDL)—have been filed against Smith & Nephew, citing issues of pain, metallosis, and necrosis in its Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system.

Your Options

Under product liability law in Canada, you can recover damages for any injury resulting from a defective hip implant. In Canadian tort law, the most common claims are:

  • Negligent manufacture: An inherent design flaw makes the device defective or dangerous.
  • Negligent design: A flaw in the design of the product made the product defective or unreasonably dangerous.
  • Negligent failure to warn: The product was marketed with improper instructions and negligently failed to include a proper warning of any latent dangers.

The area of pharmaceutical and defective product litigation is complex and can be difficult to navigate without the representation of an experienced pharmaceutical lawyer. Our experienced team of hip replacements lawyers is ready to represent you to help you recover compensation for your losses. 

Remember, choosing the perfect medical device is never an exact science—but you should never suffer because of defects in a product that was intended to improve your quality of life.


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At Napoli Shkolnik Canada our goal is to help you in your time of need and to be there for you every step of the way. Reach out today to find out how we can help.

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