The New York Times is reporting that doctors are finding that “metal on metal” hip implants are failing at a much higher and faster rate than expected, leading to the need for early revision and replacement.“Metal on metal” refers to the materials used in the design. A typical hip implant consists of a femoral stem which is fixed into the femur or thigh bone. The hip socket (or acetabulum) is replaced with a “cup” of one design or another. A ball device is attached to the end of the femoral stem and fits into the acetabulur component, completing the ball and socket joint. Until about 10 years ago either the ball or the liner of the acetabulm was made of either ceramic or a poly plastic. Beginning in the late ’90s manufacturers began replacing either the ball or the cup or both with metal components. The theory was that the patient would achieve a longer life thus avoiding revision surgery to replace either the ball or the cup or both. The older ceramic and poly components had typical lifespans of 15 to 20 years.The theory is apparently proving to be false. As the is reporting, these metal on metal implants are failing much sooner than expected, some in as little as two years. What is occurring is the wear of the components is creating metal debris which is destroying soft tissue and bone. The estimate now is that 1 to 3% of implants are failing at this rate. However, since the metal on metal didn’t reach the peak of their popularity until 5 years or so ago, the real extent of the problem is still unknown. Given that 80,000 or more of these implants are used in primary replacements a year, that could be anywhere form 8,000 to 24,000 patients affected each year. Given that the typical hip replacement procedure can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 and lead to additional lost income and other losses, the financial impact on patients is potentially extensive.If you have experienced an early component failure, either due to pain or component loosening, or have had your hip implant revised for other reasons earlier than expected, you may want to consider a product liability action against the implant manufacturer. If you would like to explore this further, please feel free to contact me, attorney Todd N. Hendrickson. Although my practice is concentrated in Missouri and Illinois, I will consider appropriate cases throughout the United States. I have extensive experience and expertise in medical malpractice and medical product liability litigation, with particular emphasis in orthopeadic matters, including hip, knee and shoulder replacements. I have successfully litigated cases against hip implant manufactures for a variety of matters and I am uniquely qualified to review these types of cases.