Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, is a sign of cobalt poisoning, a malady that might be caused by a metal-on-metal hip implant. However, that is not the only complication associated with these types of implants. All-metal hip systems were originally marketed as innovative devices that were more durable than other types of hip implants – which we now know is not the case.
What Should You Know About Cobalt Poisoning?
Cobalt poisoning, or cobaltism, can cause a number serious complications, including tinnitus. If not treated, it can also cause vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism and cognitive problems such as dementia.
Cobalt poisoning has been linked to metal-on-metal hip implants. In April 2010, European regulators said that metal hip patients who were at risk for bone and tissue damage should be tested for high levels of cobalt and other metals in the blood. Later that year, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery described two patients with metal-on-metal hips who developed cobalt poisoning. Symptoms of cobaltism include:
- Hearing loss
- Loss of coordination
- Cognitive decline
Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Can Shed Cobalt and Chromium Debris
A hip implant that uses all-metal components is known as a metal-on-metal hip implant. These types of hip devices are usually made of chromium and cobalt. The problem with all-metal hip implants, experts have found, is that they can shed debris into the body when the two metal surfaces rub together. In fact, suffering from an elevated cobalt level is a common allegation of those suing over metal-on-metal hip implants. Other complications include:
- Swelling, extreme pain and discomfort
- Clicking, popping or grinding
- Loosening of the implant
- Unexplained hip pain
- Thigh or groin pain
- Pain when walking
- Pain when getting up from a seated position
- Pain when bearing weight
Some all-metal hip patients have to undergo a second surgery to remove their implant when complications become severe; this procedure is known as a revision surgery. Metal-on-metal hip implants are known to fail more often than other types of hip implants, a trend that has served to raise the orthopedic community’s safety concerns.
In January 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave new recommendations for patients with metal-on-metal hip implants. The agency advised, among other things, that patients showing any symptoms should be tested for the presence of metal ions.
If you or a loved one has suffered any signs of cobalt poisoning after receiving a metal-on-metal hip implant, you may have valuable legal rights. The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can help you with any questions you may have. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. To find out more, please fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).