You’ve just learned about the worldwide recall of Johnson & Johnson/DePuy Orthopaedics’s ASR XL Acetabular System and ASR Hip Resurfacing System. You had hip surgery after July 2003, which means it is possible that you were implanted with a defective, dangerous device that deposits toxic metal debris into your bloodstream and has the potential to fail completely. You want to know what to do now.
The first thing you should do is contact your orthopedic surgeon (or general practitioner, if he or she has your complete medical history). You will want to confirm whether or not your replacement hip is indeed one that has been recalled. Johnson & Johnson itself does not have this information, so J&J (and the FDA) can only let the general public and doctors specifically know that the ASR devices are defective. Your doctor should call you, but you can also be proactive by calling your doctor or the hospital where your surgery took place. Your doctor might not be able to tell you immediately whether you replacement hip has been recalled, but you should know within a day or two, once the doctor has had a chance to check your file.
It is possible that your replacement hip is indeed an ASR unit, yet you have not experienced any discomfort, such as hip, thigh, or groin pain or pain while walking, rising from a seated position, or bearing weight. Even if you have not (yet) been noticably injured by an ASR unit, it is possible that your hip is faulty, and that you will develop painful side effects in the future. 1 in 8 recipients of a ASR hip replacement device has required a second surgery, because the device can eventually fail completely. That is why you need to consult your doctor, even if you have no painful or uncomfortable symptoms. Only by receiving a complete medical diagnosis can you be sure that you are not in danger. This includes returning for an annual evaluation to make sure any ASR device you’ve had implanted continues to function safely.
During your doctor’s visit, you can expect to have a blood test to measure the level of microscopic metal pieces surrounding your hip. The metal from ASR units flake off the devices into a recipient’s bloodstream. If you have elevated metal particle levels, this could be an indication that your ASR hip is failing.
If your doctor does decide that your ASR replacement hip should be removed and replaced, your next step should be to speak to a DePuy hip recall lawyer. Although Johnson & Johnson has promised to reimburse recipients of ASR devices for all relevant testing and treatment (including, if necessary, a follow-up surgery), the simple fact is that this company has already betrayed your trust once.