Pryers act for approximately 90 clients who have suffered injury as a result of their failed DePuy ASR hip joint. The product was withdrawn from sale in August 2010, after studies showed the failure rate to be 12-13% within five years of fitting.
However, evidence has since emerged that other metal-on-metal hip products are failing at similar rates. The British Hip Society has recently quoted studies showing that other metal-on-metal hip products have 5 year failure rates of 12-15%. In the marketing materials for one of those products, the manufacturer claimed a 5 year failure rate of only 0.2%.
Not only does the evidence suggest that the joints are failing more frequently than expected, but the way in which they fail, and the damage they cause as they wear out, is far greater than was expected.
The most commonly used metal-on-metal hip products in use in the UK are the Birmingham hip made by Smith and Nephew, Cormet by Corin, Pinnacle by DePuy and Durom by Zimmer, although there are a number of others.
The components are mostly made of chromium and cobalt. As the components wear, tiny particles of metal become detached and imbedded in soft tissues around the joint, causing an inflammatory reaction. Eventually, this process, called metallosis or ALVAL, causes extensive damage to the muscles and soft tissues around the joint. The joint has to be replaced, but in many cases, the damage to these soft tissues results in the early failure of the new hip, as the soft tissues are essential to hold the joint together and to prevent dislocation. Many people will unfortunately be left permanently disabled.
It therefore appears that the risk of the joint wearing out prematurely is far greater than the manufacturers claimed, and when they do wear out, the damage caused often prevents effective revision surgery.
Pryers Solicitors are now investigating whether a case can be made arguing that other, and possibly all, metal-on-metal hip components are unsafe and defective. If so, then under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, patients will be entitled to compensation.
If you believe that you have suffered injury as a result of a failed metal-on-metal hip device, then please contact Pryers Solicitors.