The dangers of DePuy ASR all-metal hip implants

by Tim Bishop on January 14, 2014

The DePuy ASR hip replacement recall scandal has focused around two main risks to the health of the implant recipient. Loosening of the implant itself and the risk of subsequent metal poisoning – a condition often referred to as metallosis.

Hip replacement surgery requires an artificial device to be attached securely to both the pelvis and the femur. In order to do this, surgeons will press fit or cement the joint in place. The metal-on-metal DePuy ASR hip device has a metal cup and ball system. The cup affixes to the pelvic bone and the stability of the hip device is dependant upon the security of this cup.

DePuy ASR metal hip implants-  the 2010 recall

The DePuy ASR was subject to a global recall in 2010 because of high failure rates, often related to the loosening or dislocation of the device from the pelvis. This loosening is usually caused by the hip bone not growing and attaching to the cup.

Failure of the ASR devices is also often attributed to friction between the metal components of the hip device, which in turn releases metal fragments into the tissue around the joint. This can lead to poisoning of the blood, bone loss, swelling and infection. These problems can create weakness around the joint which makes it more likely to fail. With time this can lead to the components of the joint slipping out of alignment.

All artificial hip joints will loosen as the years go by, however the DePuy ASR joints are loosening alarmingly early on. Joint registries reported failure rates as high as 40% after 5 years and many patients require revision surgeries within just two years of implantation.

Many recipients of DePuy’s defective all-metal ASR hip implants have been affected by metallosis which is though to be caused by the metallic ball and cup components of the device striking each other. As this happens, metallic debris flecks off into the bloodstream leading to pain and inflammation.

Metallosis can lead to a range of further problems. The resulting inflammation can cause the hip joint to dislocate which is extremely painful and uncomfortable. With so many health problems now associated with the ASR devices, it is unsurprising that such a high number of compensation claims have been made against DePuy in the months following the 2010 recall of 93,000 of the devices worldwide.

Although some of the complications with ASR hip implants can be treated with a course of anti-inflammatory drugs, others may require ‘revision surgeries’; follow up procedures which replace the malfunctioning hip device. These procedures can result in damage to the nerves and blood vessels, or to infection.

However, some patients with metallosis will not even be able to have revision surgeries. This is because the presence of chromium and cobalt in their blood could make the procedure too dangerous.

DePuy ASR metal hips – the dangers of further surgery

Not only is the cost of full hip replacement surgery very high but like all surgery, it carries many risks including:

• Bleeding

• Complication with anaesthetics

• Pulmonary embolisms

• Slow healing

• Lengthy rehabilitation

If your hip implant fails prematurely leading to health problems, extra surgery or significant financial loss, you may be entitled to claim for medical negligence compensation in respect of their pain and suffering.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – Solicitors with a team of medical negligence experts. For more information about how to claim compensation, visit their website at or phone their medical negligence solicitors directly on 01722 422300.

Tim Bishop

Tim Bishop

Senior Partner at Bonallack and Bishop
Having qualified as a Solicitor in 1986, Tim Bishop is a legal entrepreneur who owns leading law firm Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors. Find out why you should choose Bonallack & Bishop Solicitors: Visit
Tim Bishop

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