Hip replacement complications can arise for a variety of reasons. Knowing the symptoms and causes can help you determine next steps.
Hip Replacement Complications: How and Why They Fail
Hip replacements are a common operation in the United States. Every year, more than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed, and most of the patients undergoing the procedure are between 50 and 80 years old. However, hip replacement surgery can be performed on patients of almost any age.
During a total hip replacement procedure (also called total hip arthroplasty), the damaged parts of the hip joint are removed by a surgeon and replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthetic implant.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body. It plays an important role in mobility. Most people that undergo a hip replacement do so because of illness or injury causing pain and other issues with the hip joint. Arthritis is one of the most common reasons for a hip replacement. Someone may get a hip replacement due to a hip fracture or other severe injury to the hip (often caused by falling). Additionally, degeneration over time can also require a hip replacement.
Prior to a hip replacement, an orthopedic surgeon will evaluate the patient. The doctor will examine the patient’s medical history and the patient’s hip, conduct an x-ray, and perform other diagnostic tests as necessary. Most treatments are focused on increasing mobility and reducing pain.
Why do hip replacements fail?
Many patients can look forward to reduced pain and returning to their regular activities after a successful hip replacement. In most instances, a hip replacement prosthesis should remain effective for up to 20 years.
Unfortunately, sometimes hip replacements fail. When a hip replacement fails, revision surgery becomes necessary. Revision surgery is surgery performed to repair or replace the hip prosthesis. Revision surgery can be costly and carries its own risks.
Below we discuss some of the reasons why hip replacements fail.
Defective hip implants
Many patients have suffered and continue to suffer due to defective implants. Defective implants can cause health problems and often require revision surgery to remove the defective device. Even after the defective device is removed, some patients continue to experience pain and other issues associated with the original surgery.
Defective hip implants are more common than one might expect. There have been thousands of lawsuits filed against some of the largest manufacturers, alleging that the companies were negligent and claiming that the companies should not have allowed the defective devices to be used in surgery. Notable manufacturers that have been accused of negligence include the following:
- DePuy Synthes, the Orthopaedics Company of Johnson & Johnson
- Smith & Nephew
- Wright Medical
- Zimmer Biomet
Patients who have suffered hip replacement complications or failure due to a defective hip implant may be able to file a tort claim against the negligent manufacturer. The tort claim is a way to hold the negligent company responsible and ensure that injured patients receive the justice that they deserve.
Normal wear and tear
Hip implants do not last forever. One study found that patients and surgeons can expect a hip replacement to last 25 years in around 58% of patients. Even in a healthy patient, a hip implant can eventually fail due to normal wear and tear. What a patient chooses to do when this type of failure occurs varies depending on the patient. Younger patients are most likely to undergo a second hip replacement surgery.
It is possible for a patient to develop an infection that leads to hip replacement failure. An infection can be a serious complication. A joint replacement infection can develop at any time following the procedure, even years later.
A patient who thinks they have developed a hip replacement implant infection should contact their physician immediately. According to experts from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, signs and symptoms of an infected joint replacement include the following:
- Increased pain or stiffness in a previously well-functioning joint
- Warmth and redness around the wound
- Wound drainage
- Fevers, chills and night sweats
If a bone breaks around a hip replacement implant, it may lead to hip replacement failure. A broken bone around the hip after a total hip replacement is a serious complication that most often requires surgery.
A patient who suspects a hip fracture, should contact their physician immediately. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the most common symptoms of periprosthetic hip fracture include the following:
- Pain around the hip or thigh
- Swelling and bruising around the hip or thigh
- Inability to bear weight on the injured leg
- The injured leg appears shorter or deformed
How to know if your hip replacement is failing
If you are having issues after your hip replacement, you may be wondering what the symptoms of a failed hip replacement are. Understanding how to know if your hip replacement is failing is important to seeking treatment and, in some instances, justice. Keep in mind that not all symptoms of hip replacement failure are obvious. The only way to know for sure if your hip replacement is failing is by a thorough medical exam (and possibly surgery).
Symptoms of hip replacement failure will differ depending on the reason. Patients should look out for any of the following symptoms of hip replacement failure:
- Radiating pain from the hip joint
- Pain that flares up
- Stiffness in the hip joint
- Instability in the hip joint
- Swelling of the hip joint
As discussed in the previous section, there are a number of reasons that a hip replacement can fail. Patients should pay attention to any symptoms of infection or fracture, especially after a fall or serious accident.
What to do if your hip replacement fails
Hip replacement failure is serious and should be addressed immediately. The first thing you should do, regardless of the cause or circumstance, is to get in touch with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
From there, if you and your doctor determine that your hip replacement has failed due to a defective product, you should contact the Guardian Legal Network. The Guardian Legal Network can connect you with an attorney to advise you regarding the next steps. If your hip replacement complications are due to a defective hip replacement device, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer responsible.
Are You Concerned About Your Hip Replacement Device?
If you or a loved one are experiencing hip replacement complications, it may be due to a faulty hip replacement device. Contact Guardian Legal Network today to connect with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area. The attorney can answer your questions and explain your options for holding the negligent manufacturer responsible for your replacement.
- Hessels, Amanda, et al. “Incidence and Risk Factors for Health-Care Associated Infections after Hip Operation.” Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 1 December 2016, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/sur.2016.062. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- “Total Hip Replacement.” OrthoInfo – AAOS, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-hip-replacement/. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- “3 Reasons That Total Hip Replacement Surgery Might be the Best Option for You.” Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, https://rothmanortho.com/stories/blog/3-reasons-that-total-hip-replacement-surgery-might-be-the-best-option-for-you. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- “Hip Replacement.” Hospital for Special Surgery, https://www.hss.edu/condition-list_hip-replacement.asp. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- Evans, Jonathan, et al. “How long does a hip replacement last? A systematic review and meta-analysis of case series and national registry reports with more than 15 years of follow-up.” The Lancet, 16 February 2019, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31665-9/fulltext. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- “Joint Replacement Infection.” OrthoInfo – AAOS, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/joint-replacement-infection/. Accessed September 15, 2022.
- “Fracture After Total Hip Replacement.” OrthoInfo – AAOS, https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/fracture-after-total-hip-replacement/. Accessed September 15, 2022.