Orthopaedic patients have access to many options as they look to remedy frustrating persistent pains caused by injury or age. Arthroscopic techniques provide surgeons with minimally-invasive methods when operating on patients. In arthroscopic procedures, doctors make an incision and insert a small camera called an arthroscope, a specialized type of endoscope, through the body to aid in precision and accuracy. People needing knee or spinal disc reconstruction often opt for arthroscopic procedures. Sometimes patients require more invasive surgery depending on their condition. In more dramatic cases, patients undergo arthroplastic surgery.
During an arthroplasty, orthopaedic surgeons repair and realign flawed joints. One of the most common arthroplastic surgeries is total hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery is considered an elective procedure as it’s not required for survival. The goal of a total hip replacement is to relieve pain and restore function. In 2005, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, released the metal-on-metal ASR hip implant. During the five years that it was used in surgical procedures, millions of patients were the recipient of the DePuy ASR system.
Unfortunately, the hip implant proved to have a high failure rate, as one in eight recipients experienced complications within five years of their initial arthroplasty. Complications spanned from cup misalignment, femoral socket fracture, allergic reaction, and blood clots. A skilled surgeon has a large influence on the post-op success of an orthopaedic procedure; however, many of the complications stemming from DePuy ASR installations related to design defects, not surgical error. In 2010 after reviewing a post-market evaluation, DePuy Orthopaedics decided to issue a worldwide recall for the ASR Hip System.
People that have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have a varying range of injury related to the hip implant. Some people have required numerous hip reconstructive surgeries after the implant dislodged. Other patients have experienced tissue damage and toxic blood poisoning due to metal shavings releasing into their system. A recent projection claims that Johnson & Johnson is considering paying $3 billion in 2013 to settle DePuy ASR lawsuits.