Cobalt Poisoning is a known side effect of metal hip implants. When the parts of a metal-on-metal hip implant grind together, they can release particles of toxic cobalt and chromium into the bloodstream. Very high levels of cobalt can cause severe side effects, including tissue damage, bone loss, and chronic pain in the hips. Over time, untreated cobalt poisoning can also lead to disability, heart disease, blindness, deafness, memory loss, and more.
Do I Have a Cobalt Poisoning Lawsuit? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one has been injured by a hip replacement that caused cobalt poisoning, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Defective Medical Device Lawsuit.
Cobalt Poisoning Overview
Cobalt poisoning (sometimes referred to as “cobaltism” or “metallosis”) is a life-threatening, potentially disabling side effect of a metal-on-metal hip implant. These new types of hip replacements were invented with chromium-cobalt metal alloys. The ball and socket of these devices are made of metal, and when a person with this implant walks, the metal parts grind together. This can cause tiny particles of cobalt or chromium to be released into surrounding tissues, bones, or the bloodstream.
Cobalt poisoning occurs when the amount of cobalt in the bloodstream exceeds normal levels.
- Normally, people have 0.019 micrograms of cobalt per deciliter of blood. In total, this is about 1 microgram of cobalt in the entire body
- Cobalt levels that reach 0.7 micrograms per deciliter are a warning sign. Doctors will likely recommend that a patient with this level of cobalt should undergo blood tests and examinations for signs of complications.
- If cobalt levels reach 1.9 micrograms per deciliter of blood, this is considered toxic and patients are at high risk of severe complications. A doctor will probably recommend that the patients have their metal hip replacement removed. Cobalt levels should return to normal after 6 months. If cobalt poisoning is not detected and it continues to increase, the patient may suffer life-threatening complications
Cobalt and Hip Replacements
When metal-on-metal hip replacements were invented in the 1990s, they were intended to be ideal for younger, more active patients. Experts believed that they would be more resilient. Instead, there is now growing research linking these devices to a higher 5-year failure-rate compared to plastic or ceramic designs. In addition, metal-on-metal hip replacements have a higher risk of cobalt poisoning or metallosis. Experts are now calling for a ban of all metal-on-metal hip replacements. Some European health authorities are also recommending that all people with these devices have frequent blood tests. The U.S. FDA has not taken the same steps.
Cobalt was chosen for use in metal hip replacements because it is highly resistant to corrosion and wear. It is combined with chromium alloys and tungsten carbide. Despite the risks associated with this design, and the fact that plastic and ceramic designs have fewer side effects, these devices continue to be very popular in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people have these devices, and in 2010, approximately 35% of all hip replacement surgeries involved implantation of a metal-on-metal hip replacement.
Symptoms of Cobalt Poisoning
If you would like to read a medical report from Alaska regarding two hip replacement surgery patients who suffered toxic cobalt poisoning, click here.
Symptoms of cobalt poisoning do not usually occur suddenly. Instead, they gradually appear over time. The initial symptom may be just a slight burning sensation or pain in the area around the hip replacement. Over time, this pain may become significantly worse. As local tissues, muscles, and bone begin to die, the hip replacement may also become looser.
Symptoms of cobalt poisoning or metallosis include:
- Elevated levels of cobalt in the bloodstream
- Visual impairment (blindness)
- Cardiomyopathy (heart failure)
- Cognitive impairment
- Auditory impairment (deafness)
- Peripheral neuropathy
The risks of cobalt poisoning are higher for certain individuals, including those with impaired kidney/renal function, or those with pre-existing metal sensitivity.
Do I have a Cobalt Poisoning Lawsuit?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $60 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact us for a free Hip Replacement Cobalt Poisoning Lawsuit review.