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Metal Debris in Liver, Spleen of Majority of Patients with Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement

Posted in DePuy Hip Replacement, Devices

A 2004 article published in The Journal of Arthroplasty has shown that tiny metal particles (less than one micrometer in diameter) can be found in over 73% of people who used a metal-on-metal hip implant.  This research, conducted by Robert M. Urban et al. is titled “Accumulation in Liver and Spleen of Metal Particles Generated at Nonbearing Surfaces in Hip Arthroplasty” and is available in part online.

The Urban et al. (2004) study performed a postmortem analysis of the livers of 15 patients with all-metal hip replacement systems and using high-powered electron microscopes, found that 11 of those 15 patients had metal particles from their hip implant in the liver.  These particles enter the blood stream when the metal joint wears down, and “Fretting at ancillary fixation devices, loose components, and modular connections can generate a substantial volume of debris.”[1]

Since metal-on-metal hip implants are relatively new, Urban writes that “The long-term effects of accumulated wear particles in the liver and spleen are unknown.”[2]

The Orthopedics page at About.com provides some particularly insightful information on the subject:

“The concern about some metal-on-metal hip replacements, specifically one implant made by a Johnson & Johnson Company called DePuy Orthopaedics, is that implants were causing problems within the first few years after replacement. The problem found is that while the materials don’t wear out quickly, they do create microscopic particles of metallic debris. The body seems to react to this microscopic debris with an immune response.”[3]

This idea, that the body’s immune system reacts to the foreign metal debris was corroborated by Urban’s 2004 study cited above, which found that “metal particles were identified within macrophages in the liver and/or the spleen”[4] in patients with all-metal hip replacements.  For general information on the role of macrophages in the human immune system, follow the link above.  For a more detailed picture of the role of macrophages, review this article.

The immune response to the metal debris “can lead to soft-tissue and bone damage around the hip joint. In some patients, this tissue damage has been severe causing permanent injury and requiring additional surgery.”[5]  For this article on the danger of metal-on-metal hip replacements, the Orthopedics page cited research published in a 2012 edition of The Lancet.

If you or a loved one has a metal-on-metal hip replacement system and have experienced negative side-effects as a result, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries through a metal-on-metal hip lawsuit.  For a free case consultation, contact our team of hip replacement defect lawyers.

At your convenience, you may reach our offices by phone at (855) 452-5529 or by e-mail at justinian@dangerousdrugs.us.


[1] Urban, RM et al “Accumulation in Liver and Spleen of Metal Particles Generated at Nonbearing Surfaces in Hip Arthroplasty” The Journal of Arthroplasty Vol. 19 No. 8 Suppl. 3 2004

[2] Ibid.

[4] Urban, RM et al “Accumulation in Liver and Spleen of Metal Particles Generated at Nonbearing Surfaces in Hip Arthroplasty” The Journal of Arthroplasty Vol. 19 No. 8 Suppl. 3 2004