In 2010, Johnson and Johnson recently issued a worldwide recall of two hip replacement devices (manufactured by its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics) because of hip replacement problems: the ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The company cited early failure of the devices, resulting in approximately one out of eight patients’ requiring a “revision” surgery—which is often more difficult and painful than the original hip replacement procedure.
If you think that you might have received a defective ASR device that caused you hip replacement problems, you should immediately contact your doctor, even if you are not experiencing pain or discomfort. As part of the DePuy hip recall, J&J indicated that it intended to pay for the cost of tests needed to determine if your ASR hip is functioning well. Should you require revision surgery, J&J should also pay for the procedure.
The reason why approximately 12 percent of recipients of an ASR replacement hip require revision surgery is that the ASR devices can deteriorate and fail completely. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that your ASR hip unit is defective:
- Hip pain
- Thigh or groin pain
- Pain while walking
- Pain when rising from a seated position
- Pain bearing weight
When ASR hip units deteriorate, they deposit small pieces of toxic metal into a recipient’s bloodstream. These particles can lead to ALVAL (asceptic lymphocyte-dominated vasculitis associated lesion)—an adverse tissue reaction to the metal.
Your body’s tissues may also react to the metal by forming pseudotumors. When you visit your doctor, he or she will perform a blood test to determine if you have heightened levels of metal particles in the blood around your hip. Again, it is important to visit your doctor even in the absence of pain or discomfort. It could take time for the problems associated with the metal particles to become evident, and ongoing, periodic blood tests might be necessary.
In extreme cases, the ASR hip units fail completely. This can happen in different ways, including:
- The implant does not stay attached to the bone in the correct position and becomes loose.
- The implant dislocates, meaning the parts that move against each other are no longer aligned.
- The bone around the hip implant fractures.
Whether or not you experience any of the side effects listed above (but especially if you do), contact your doctor so he or she can evaluate the status of your replacement hip. In the event that you need testing or revision surgery, keep track of your medical expenses so that you will be able to request prompt reimbursement from Johnson & Johnson.