You know about food poisoning and lead poisoning, but what about metal poisoning? This rare condition is known as metallosis, and for most people, it’s not a common threat. But for those getting an artificial hip joint, it’s a real and potentially very serious issue. Studies show about 5% of total hip arthroplasty (THR) patients eventually get metallosis from their prosthetic implants.
What Is Metallosis?
Metal-on-metal hip joint implants may include parts that contain chromium, cobalt, titanium, molybdenum and nickel. Your implant’s components rubbing together can cause invisible metal particles to flake off. This metal debris can then enter your bloodstream and surrounding tissues. The rubbing releases microscopic metal particles into the blood and surrounding tissues. This metal debris can build up to toxic levels, damaging tissue, bone, and your nervous system. Once soft tissue around your implant develops metal poisoning, it’s called metallosis. And even if you don’t have a metal-on-metal hip implant, any titanium alloy parts may still put you at risk.
Metallosis Warning Signs & Symptoms to Watch For
If you experience any of the following symptoms after total hip replacement surgery, it may be metallosis:
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health issues
- Visual impairment (this can eventually lead to blindness)
- Skin rashes
- Noise coming from your hip joint (i.e., it squeaks when you move)
- Hearing loss
- Muscle tremors
If you experience one or more symptoms listed above, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Metallosis, especially if left untreated, can lead to life-altering complications — and even death.
Untreated Metallosis Can Lead to Life-Threatening Complications
Metallosis is linked to several serious medical conditions — including potentially life-threatening complications. If you seek treatment immediately after noticing any symptoms, you can usually avoid the most dangerous metallosis complications, including:
- Implant failure
- Tissue and bone death
- Organ damage
- Allergic reactions (nickel allergies are among the most common)
- Cardiomyopathy (heart problems, including heart failure)
FDA Warnings About Metallosis and Other Potential THR Reactions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides up-to-date information for patients with MoM implants. The agency’s FAQs page helps identify potential complications, including what to expect with revision surgery. It also lists risk factors that increase your chances for medical problems after a total hip replacement.
Patients with these risk factors must stay vigilant in checking for metallosis symptoms. Because this condition gradually worsens over time, early treatment is key to avoid more serious problems.
Some metallosis risk factors include:
- Bilateral hip implants (getting hip replacements on both your right and left side)
- Being a woman
- Renal problems/Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
- A poor immune system
- Any suspected metal sensitivity, especially to chromium, cobalt or nickel
- Being severely overweight or obese
- High physical activity levels (i.e., athletes that train regularly)
If you or a loved one need hip replacement surgery, be sure to ask the right questions. Do you have any metallosis risk factors to discuss with your surgeon? Ask which implants your insurance plan covers and whether each device may put your health at risk. Once you find a hip implant that fits your needs, see if it’s similar to any recently recalled devices. Then, consider any lawsuits now underway against various hip implant manufacturers, including Stryker as well as Smith & Nephew.
How Metallosis Victims Can Get Justice and Compensation
If you or a loved one got metallosis from an artificial hip joint, you may qualify for a cash settlement. If so, you’ll need revision surgery to replace your faulty implant. The FDA recently recalled several different hip implants, and you may qualify for financial compensation. To see if you may qualify for a cash settlement from the device’s manufacturer, complete your free case evaluation today. Just answer a few brief questions to confirm your eligibility, then tell us the best way to contact you. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer will call to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.