Hip Implant/Replacement Loosening

The parts of an artificial hip replace the natural ball and socket hip joint. The ball, which rotates within the hip socket, is attached to the thigh bone by a metal stem. The stem is inserted into a canal the surgeon makes in the femur or thigh bone.

Loose Stem Hip Replacement

A stem can be fit into the canal tightly so it holds the implant in place. Or, a stem can be inserted into the canal and held in place by epoxy-cement. Stems loosen over time, especially in more active or heavy patients because wear causes the cement to crack or fracture.

An implant might also become loose if the friction between the metal ball at the top of the femoral stem and the polyethylene acetabular cup (the artificial hip socket) causes debris to shed from the cup. Particles of debris which are shed from the cup or the cement holding the implant in place trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation of the surrounding tissue and bone can cause bone loss around the implant. Eventually, bone loss can cause the implant to loosen.

Symptoms of a Loose Hip Implant

When a hip implant loosens, it begins to move a little bit. Symptoms of a loosened hip replacement include:

  • Increasing and lasting pain that develops slowly over years (the pain usually is in the entire hip and or in the thigh when the femoral component comes loose)
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Changes on X-rays
  • Problem putting weight on the joint
  • Reduced range of motion

When a hip implant fails, revision surgery is needed. Revision surgery is more complicated and the results are usually not as successful as the original surgery. This is because:

  • The bones are damaged from the complications involving the loss of the original implant
  • The surgery is more difficult to perform
  • Revision surgery takes longer and requires more blood than the primary surgery
  • Aspiration of the joint may be required to be sure there is no infection
  • The risk of complications is greater
  • Because of the loss of bone, bone grafts are often required

Problems with some hip implants are occurring much sooner than usual, sometimes within three to five years after hip replacement surgery. Implants normally can last from 15 to 20 years.

If you or someone you love has required revision surgery due to a loose implant, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your pain and suffering as well as the cost of revision surgery and lost wages. Contact a hip implant lawyer for more information.

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