Wright Conserve Hip Replacement Lawsuit Filed Over Design Problems

An Oregon woman has filed a product liability lawsuit that alleges problems with the Wright Conserve Hip Replacement System caused her to suffer permanent injury and metal blood poisoning. 

The complaint was filed by Christine Minton and her husband Michael on November 30, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

Minton, who received a Wright Conserve metal-on-metal hip replacement system in February 2007, alleges that the device shed chromium and cobalt particles into her body that caused her to suffer a form of toxic metal blood poisoning known as metallosis.

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As a result of the problems, Minton had to undergo revision surgery in December 2009, after she began to suffer severe and constant pain and suffering, swelling and loss of mobility.

The design of metal-on-metal hip implants includes a metal ball that rests in a metal acetabular cup. These components, made of chromium and cobalt, constantly grind against each other as the recipient walks and moves. The design was originally meant to be longer-lasting and more durable than older designs, and were intended for younger, more active hip implant recipients.

In recent years, a number of orthopedic surgeons and studies have found that the metal-on-metal hip replacement systems are shedding metal particles into the body as they grind together. This can cause metallosis, which may result in tissue damage, swelling, bone deterioration and other problems.

Despite the belief that the metal hip designs would last longer, a number of implant registries worldwide have found that metal-on-metal hip implants like the Wright Conserve system are failing years before they should.

In May 2011, the FDA asked device manufacturers to obtain more information about the level at which the metal particles shed by hip replacements becomes dangerous, how much metal they actually shed and to quantify the potential side effects of metallosis.

Minton’s lawsuit accuses Wright Medical of failing to properly test the Wright Conserve Hip System and of manufacturing and distributing a defective device. The Conserve hip implant was approved through the FDA’s 510(k) fast-track program, which meant that the company only had to show that the implant was substantially equivalent to a product already on the market. This allowed the company to skip extensive safety testing.

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