What is Bone Loss (Osteolysis)? How is it Related to Metal on Metal Hip Implants?
Bone loss is the destruction of bone around an implant. Bone loss is also called “osteolysis” or “aseptic osteolysis.” It is a common yet serious side-effect of Metal on Metal (MoM) hip replacements.
A leading cause of MoM hip failure is bone loss. In fact, according to the Rheumatology Network, “implant loosening resulting from aseptic osteolysis accounts for more than 75% of [implant] failures” (Rheumatology Network).
The Bleeding Edge, a documentary on Netflix, explains the FDA approval processes of medical devices. Additionally, they expose the unethical approval process for devices that are faulty, like MoM hips. Consequently, after this documentary was released, the FDA announced plans to improve the current approval system.
What Causes Bone Loss in Metal on Metal Hip Implant Patients?
The metal components of Metal on Metal hip implants rub against each other during regular daily use. Due to this, tiny metal particles scrape off and enter the body, leading to bone loss.
There are different processes that can cause bone loss among MoM hip implant patients:
- When the harmful metal debris flake off the implant, it sometimes triggers your immune system.
- This causes an intense inflammatory reaction in the tissues surrounding the metal implant.
- Part of this inflammatory reaction is the destruction of bone tissue – kind of like an allergy to metal.
- Doctors believe the majority of bone loss cases are due to this immune response.
- Some patients appear to have an unusually high sensitivity to metal – kind of like an allergy to metal.
- Doctors are not sure what causes this metal “allergy.”
- Lab tests can determine whether or not you have a metal hypersensitivity, but are NOT required for obtaining a MoM implant.
Reduced Bone Formation
- Bones are constantly in a balanced process of losing and gaining minerals.
- When metal ions rub off the implant, they can enter the bone marrow.
- Once in the bone marrow, the metal ions speed up the mineral loss and slow down the mineral gain.
- This imbalance then causes bone loss.
What are the health complications of bone loss from Metal on Metal Hip Implants?
Bone loss has potential consequences that can be devastating and costly. These include:
Loosening of hip components
This scan shows a hip implant that was loosened due to bone loss.
Overall, early diagnosis and treatment are key to avoiding serious consequences caused by bone loss. Typically, MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans are required to diagnose bone loss.
However, early diagnosis of bone loss can be challenging. Symptoms don’t usually present until bone loss is already far along. For this reason, leading orthopedic surgeons recommend all patients with MoM hip implants get their blood metal ion levels tested every three months.
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What are the Symptoms of Bone Loss from Metal on Metal Hip Implants?
Like many other complications associated with Metal on Metal hip replacements, bone loss in the hip usually shows no symptoms.
Furthermore, patients suffering from bone loss might only begin to experience symptoms (like pain) when the bone loss becomes so extreme that the hip implant becomes loose.
Although bone loss does not have symptoms, there are other warning signs that might tell you if your implant is malfunctioning.
Other Signs Your Implant is Malfunctioning:
Pain in the hip or groin
Lumps in the hip or groin
Ringing in your ears
Depression and/or anxiety
If you have a Metal on Metal hip implant, and you suffer from any of the complications or symptoms listed above, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your implant may be the cause.
Additionally, you should contact a law firm with experience litigating MoM implants because you may be entitled to compensation. Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. has focused its’ practice on defective hip replacement cases for over a decade, and we will represent you at no cost unless we recover money from a verdict or settlement.
How is bone loss from Metal on Metal hip implants treated?
In the majority of cases, bone loss is treated with revision surgery. During revision surgery, your surgeon will remove the damaged or loosened MoM implant and replace it with a new model, typically made of different material combinations.
Additionally, if the bone loss is caused by an inflammatory response, patients may also be prescribed medicines to reduce inflammation.
What to do if you have suffered bone loss from a Metal on Metal implant?
If you have been diagnosed with bone loss from your Metal on Metal implant, there is a good chance you ill have to get a revision hip surgery.
Additionally, if you do need a hip revision, you should contact a lawyer with experience filing lawsuits against MoM hip implant manufacturers.
Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. has focused its practice on defective hip replacement cases for over a decade. Our firm filed the first lawsuit involving a modern generation model MoM hip replacement in the United States in 2008. Additionally, there is no cost to you unless we recover money from a verdict or a settlement. Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. does not make a practice of referring out our cases to other law firms. We represent YOU.