What is Metallosis and How is it Related to Metal Hip Replacements?
Metallosis is a type of metal poisoning. It involves a build-up of metal debris in the body’s soft tissue. This happens when parts of a metal on metal hip replacement rub together, releasing tiny cobalt and chromium particles into your bloodstream and the tissue surrounding your hip.
These particles rot healthy red tissue and muscle around the implant and turn it into a dry, gray, and dead mass of gunk. This means pain and loss of mobility. Sometimes, acronyms like “ALVAL” (Aseptic Lymphocyte-dominated Vasculitis-associated Lesion) or “ARMD” (Adverse Reaction to Metal Debris) are also used to describe similar metal poisoning from MoM hip implants.
Unfortunately, a growing list of medical literature also discusses how these metal particles are small enough that they get carried through your bloodstream. This potentially causes serious health complications in other body parts and systems, other than just the hip.
IMPORTANT: People with metallosis may not have any symptoms at all but are still at risk of developing health problems from metal poisoning.
You May Be At Risk for Metallosis
Many doctors recommend that patients with metal on metal hips have their blood tested every three months for high cobalt and chromium levels. Cobalt and chromium particles are also referred to as “metal ions.”
Generally, higher blood metal ion levels indicate greater implant wear. Medical studies show that the longer you have your implant in place, the higher your risk of experiencing metallosis.
What is Considered a High Metal Blood Ion Level?
A diagnosis of metallosis requires testing a patient’s blood for cobalt and chromium levels. The Mayo Clinic’s Medical Laboratories have stated that chromium levels greater 1 part per billion “suggest significant prosthesis wear.” They also report that “toxic concentrations” of cobalt are “greater than or equal to” 5 parts per billion.
Hip Revision Surgery – Preserving Evidence for Your Case
If you have higher than normal metal levels in your blood, or other complications, your surgeon will probably recommend a hip revision surgery. This is a second hip operation to remove and replace parts of your metal on metal hip with a different type of implant. It’s very important to contact our attorneys before your revision surgery so we can preserve evidence for your case. This includes getting images of the tissue damage during surgery and safe storage of the hip parts removed from your body.
If you already had revision surgery, don’t worry. We can help you track down medical records to use as evidence and find out if your doctor saved the implant components.
Contact us immediately for a case evaluation because there is a time limit to file a claim. Call 888-952-5242, or fill out the form below, or chat with us.
Brands of Hip Cases Our Attorneys are Currently Reviewing
What are the Health Problems Caused by Metallosis?
Often, metallosis is only detected AFTER a patient has already started experiencing severe health problems, such as vision loss or heart disease. In these cases, patients go to their doctors to resolve a problem that is seemingly unrelated to their hip implant only to discover that metallosis from their hip implant is the underlying cause.
Your Metal on Metal Hip May be the Cause of these Complications:
Cobalt Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart failure caused by toxic amounts of cobalt entering the blood and heart. Some symptoms include chest pressure, chest pain, difficulty breathing, excessive fatigue and sweating during regular daily activity, and loss of hearing and/or vision.
Severe metallosis is suspected to cause vision loss. Symptoms of metallosis-caused vision loss include abnormal blind spots, blurred vision, general loss of vision, reduced ability to see or distinguish colors, and general discomfort (like dry eyes or irritation).
Adverse Reaction to Metal Debris can also lead to a series of problems in the area directly surrounding the implant. This collection of problems is called ARMD. It causes collections of fluid around the implant, dead tissue and pseudotumors.
These are enlarged formations of soft tissue around the hip area that resembles a tumor. Pseudotumors often cause pain and can limit the range of motion. The most effective way to check for pseudotumors is with an MRI or Ultrasound.
Excessively high metal ion levels may cause brain damage and lead to memory problems. Symptoms include short-term memory loss, tendency to repeat oneself, general forgetfulness, inability to complete simple tasks.
Other complications that may be associated with metallosis include DNA mutations, impaired liver function, bone death, tissue death, skin rashes, thyroid problems, lung problems, gastrointestinal problems.
If you have a metal on metal hip replacement and are experiencing any of these problems, it is possible that you have severe metallosis.
What Does Metallosis Feel Like?
Metallosis causes a number of serious health complications, which are detailed in the section above. However, some people with metallosis also report experiencing the following symptoms:
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Early morning nausea
- Physical signs of implant failure (popping, squeaking or pain in the hip)
- Shortness of breath
- Ringing in your ears or hearing loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Blurry vision
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor immediately about your metal on metal hip. Ask for a blood test to check your metal ion levels for metallosis. With that being said, it is important to remember that many patients with metallosis exhibit no symptoms, so you should still have your metal ion levels tested regularly to make sure that your implant is not failing.
Is Metallosis Treatable?
Having a hip revision surgery should decrease the metal particles being released into your blood and allow your metal ion counts to lower back to normal levels. A revision surgery is a second operation where the surgeon removes the defective metal on metal hip and replaces it with a different type of hip implant.
We know the medical research on metal on metal hips can be confusing. That’s why we have summarized some of the leading research for you here.
Report Your Problems to the FDA
There is something you can do: Report your adverse metal on metal hip experience to the FDA by filling out a MedWatch form.
Hip manufacturers are required to report all hip failures to the FDA but often find loopholes to keep this data hidden.
If the FDA doesn’t have accurate reporting of patients suffering from serious complications, then neither does your surgeon. Your doctors rely on FDA data to diagnose problems and know when a specific type of hip implant is having issues.
Don’t let the hip implant makers brush your information under the rug. Most people don’t know that you can self-report problems. The FDA needs to hear from you. Empower yourself against these huge corporations who put profits above your health.
It’s simple to fill out and an important way to make your voice heard. Here is a link to the form: