If you were injured by a defective Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip implant, you are not alone — many people have been injured by this device, and many lawsuits have already been filed.
UPDATE: First S&N Birmingham Hip Implant Lawsuits Filed
September 2012 — A man from California has filed a lawsuit against S&N over the Birmingham hip implant, alleging that it caused him to suffer toxic metal poisoning. He required revision surgery to replace the defective implant.
October 17, 2012 — An Illinois couple has filed a lawsuit against Smith & Nephew alleging that the Birmingham hip implant is defective. Cheryl Elmore was implanted with the BHR in 2008, and soon suffered elevated metal ions, grinding in her hip joint, and revision surgery. Click here to read more.
June 1, 2012 — Smith & Nephew recalled the R3 Acetabular System, a metal liner used with the Birmingham implant.
Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Implant
The Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Replacement (BHR) was the first “metal-on-metal” hip implant that was approved in the United States. Many other manufacturers have introduced similar devices, which have recently been linked to high rates of complications and failure. In June 2012, Smith & Nephew recalled the R3 Acetabular System, which was a metal liner used with the Birminghim hip implant.
The problem with metal-on-metal hip implants is that the metal “ball and socket” grind together when the patient runs or walks. Over time, tiny metal particles of chromium and cobalt can accumulate around the hip implant. This can cause extremely painful inflammation, local tissue reactions, bone loss, tissue death, and dislocation of the hip joint.
Another concern is elevated levels of metal in a patient’s bloodstream. Cobalt is a highly-soluble metal that can travel to other organs. It may cause severe systemic complications, including skin reactions, heart problems, vision problems, and more. Thousands of people who were injured by metal hip implants have already filed lawsuits, but these are not part of a class action — instead, they are individual claims filed by people who hired their own attorney.
Hip Resurfacing Failure Rates “Unacceptably High”
The Birmingham is a hip resurfacing system. Unlike a total hip replacement surgery, a resurfacing procedure consists of placing a metal cap over the head of the femur, with a matching metal cup that is placed in the pelvic hip socket.
Although hip resurfacing is marketed toward younger, more active hip implant patients, researchers have found alarmingly high rates of failure — up to 8.3% of devices failed within 5 years among women over 55, according to a study published in The Lancet in October 2012. The researchers warned:
“Resurfacing failure rates in women were unacceptably high. In view of these findings, we recommend that resurfacing procedures are not undertaken in women.”
Safety Warning for Birmingham Modular Head Implant
On September 25, 2012, Smith & Nephew issued an “Urgent Field Safety Notice” for the “Birmingham Modular Head” hip implant, in which they stated:
“The average revision rate for the Birmingham hip with all stems is currently 1.29 revisions per 100 observed component years in the National Joint Registry of England and Wales and 1.12 revisions per 100 observed component years in the Australian Orthopaedic Association’s National Joint Replacement Registry. These rates exceed the 1% benchmark revision rate established by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).”
Metal Hip Implant Side Effects
- Chronic pain
- Inflammation or irritation in the hip
- Tissue damage
- Bone loss
- Dislocation of the hip joint
- Decreased walking ability
- Metal poisoning
- High levels of cobalt and chromium in the bloodstream
- Growth of soft-tissue bursas or pseudo-tumors
- Systemic reactions
- Failure of the hip implant
- Revision surgery
- And more