In Metal-on-metal hip implants, the metal ball and the metal cup slide against each other during walking or running. This friction causes tiny metal particles to wear off of the device into the space around the implant. Metal can also be released from other parts of the implant where components connect. Corrosion and wear between the metal ball and taper of the stem may also occur. Some of the metal ions (e.g. cobalt and chromium) from the implant or from the loosened particles will enter the bloodstream.
Over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant. This is sometimes referred to as an “adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR)” or an “adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD).” Pain, implant loosening, device failure, and the need for revision surgery (the old device is removed and replaced with another one) may result from soft tissue damage. Patients with a progressing ALTR may need earlier revision to prevent extensive damage to bone, muscle and nerves.
What are the symptoms from a faulty hip prosthetic?
The patients who reported problems in the first five years and had revision surgery reported a variety of symptoms. These symptoms included pain, swelling and problems walking. These symptoms are normal if you have just had a hip replacement. But if the symptoms continue or come back, it is a sign that there may be a problem such as:
Loosening, when the implant does not stay attached to the bone in the right position
Fracture, where the bone around the implant may have broken; and
Dislocation where the two parts of the implant that move against each other are no longer aligned.
Your hip implant is made up of ball and socket components that move against each other. These components are made of metal that wears over time and generates very small particles that can only be seen with a microscope. This is an expected process. These particles do not cause problems for most patients, but a small number of patients may react to these particles, causing fluid to collect in the joint and in the muscles around the joint. While this condition may initially be painless, if left untreated, this reaction may cause pain and swelling around the joint and could damage some of the muscles, bones, and nerves around the hip.
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