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Why Women Are More Prone to Metallosis from the DePuy ASR Hip Implant

December 22, 2010

Women are reporting more problems, and a higher failure rate, with the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement system than men. It turns out they're also more prone to some of the serious side effects of the poorly-designed implant, including metallosis.

Metallosis is a build-up of cobalt and chromium ions in the soft tissue of the body, particularly around the joints. Metallosis has been noted in people with all kinds of metal-on-metal joint implants and replacement systems - hips, knees, shoulders, wrists, elbows. Typically, the metallic build-up is minor enough that the body's immune system does not have a drastic response to the presence of metal in the system.

Not so with the DePuy hip implant. The engineering of the implant is causing far more friction than usual for a metal-on-metal implant, which means that the amount of metallic debris being released into the tissue surrounding the implant is far greater than with other implants of this type.

Especially so for women.

More Strain, More Problems

The design of the ASR XL Acetabular system is oriented around the idea of a greater range of motion. In order to accomplish this goal, the engineers removed the plastic liner from the inside of the hip implant and made the acetabular cup quite shallow so that patients could move their legs in a wider arc.

In theory, all of these design changes should indeed allow for a greater range of motion-assuming that that the implant will hold together.

Which it doesn't.

Women are affected more than men because of serious design flaws in the DePuy hip implant. The femoral head moves constantly back and forth as the hip implant's owner moves normally, and that puts stress on the acetabular cup. In an implant with a deeper acetabular cup than the DePuy ASR hip implant, there is more material to accommodate the strain of motion. The force is distributed over a bigger surface, which means that the implant overall can hold up to that strain better.

In women, that surface area gets even smaller. The already-shallow hip implant is made smaller overall to accommodate a woman's smaller frame. Women have naturally wider hips and larger hip sockets than men do, which means that the shallow acetabular cup becomes in effect even shallower.

And the smaller the surface area of the implant, the more likely the material will break down rapidly - releasing metal ions into the body as it does. Those metal ions accumulate in the soft tissues surrounding the hip joint, causing metallosis.

Essentially, the smaller the implant, the greater the amount of metal ions building up in the bloodstream. This means women aren't just susceptible to metallosis - they're also more likely to see the problems that develop as a result of metallosis, including metal hypersensitivity, heavy metal poisoning (which includes chromium poisoning and cobalt poisoning) and tissue and bone deterioration.

Metallosis' Risks to Pregnant Women

To ensure proper fetal development, every woman needs to be in the best possible health. Every guide for expectant mothers puts heavy emphasis on proper nutrition and exercise as well as giving up stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. Heavy metal poisoning can seriously impair a pregnant woman's normal bodily processes in ways that could present a danger to her pregnancy.

As previously mentioned, there is a healthy and normal level of chromium and cobalt found in the body. However, due to the DePuy ASR hip design, particularly on smaller sized implants, cobalt and chromium levels become elevated to the point that it becomes metallosis.

Excess amounts of chromium and cobalt can be a serious problem for pregnant women. Currently, not as much is understood about the potential side effects of excess levels of chromium, but cobalt at levels higher then 1 microgram per liter (or 1 parts per billion) raises some cause for concern. Cobalt poisoning has been shown to cause problems with DNA development, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism, for example.

We're Here to Answer Your Questions

If you are pregnant and concerned about the affects that the DePuy hip implant may have on your pregnancy, please give our offices a call at 1-800-677-7095 or send us an email through our online form. We'll give you all the information we have about the problems presented by the DePuy ASR Acetabular system and give you our best advice on your legal rights moving forward.

If you'd like to learn more about metallosis, the construction of the DePuy ASR Acetabular System, or how women are affected more than men by the DePuy hip recall, we recommend these articles:

What Is Metallosis?

Glossary of Medical Terms Related to teh DePuy ASR Acetabular System

How the ASR XL Acetabular System is Constructed

Why Women Are Affected More than Men by the DePuy Hip Recall

Contact Us

If you think you have a DePuy hip implant and would like to know more about the case, give our offices a call at 1-800-677-7095. Our people are standing by to answer your questions and explain how we can help.

DePuy Crib Sheets

Deciding what you want to do in the aftermath of this hip recall is extremely difficult. There are important medical and legal decisions to make, and you may not be feeling up to the task of figuring out the right questions to ask. We thought we'd try to make that a little easier for you.

Medical Crib Sheets
Legal Crib Sheets

Learn more about the DePuy Hip Recall Cheat Sheets or just go right ahead and download them - they're absolutely free and we hope they help during this difficult time.

DePuy Recall In The News

As new updates appear in the news on the DePuy hip recall and the ASR XL Acetabular System, we put those links up here so you can stay informed. If you'd like to be notified when we have news updates, please subscribe to our feed.

August 22, 2012
Johnson & Johnson Agrees to Pay About $200,000 Per Case to Settle Three ASR Lawsuits in Nevada

June 27, 2012
FDA Holds Hearing on Metal Hips But Dodges Fundamental Question of Inadequacy of Testing 

March 12, 2012
Too Little Too Late? Researchers Conclude Metal on Metal Hip Replacements Should Not Be Used.

»Read our complete archive of articles about the Depuy hip recall.

Have Questions?

We've got answers. We've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive from incoming clients and given you our most informed answers. We explain the lawsuit, why you don't need to spend any money to hire an attorney, and the risks to your health.

You can also browse our Stay Informed section for full articles on the case against DePuy and the medical problems with the ASR XL Acetabular total hip replacement system, or contact us directly.

View our FAQs on the DePuy hip recall.

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