Warranties Matter: Real People, Real Stories of People With Hip & Knee Implants

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As part of our campaign demanding warranties for artificial hip and knee implants, we’ve collected nearly 3,000 stories from people with implants to better understand their issues. Many of them told us they were satisfied with their implant – it improved their mobility and eliminated joint pain. However, a significant number of people told us they faced problems such as pain, revision surgery, infections, or limited range of motion.

Despite the range of answers, most people we surveyed support a warranty on hip and knee implants, and to date we’ve sent more than 350,000 of your messages to the major manufacturers asking for warranties. Consumers expect these products to last 20 years, or even a lifetime, and you can add your voice to this campaign by taking action here.

Here are some stories that illustrate the problem consumers face with implants that aren’t warrantied:

Cornelis from Pennsylvania received a metal-on-metal hip implant in 2005. A year later, x-rays revealed that the ring where the ball fits into the hip socket had broken and was sticking into his muscle. In this spot doctors found a mysterious growth about 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. At first, doctors thought this growth was a tumor; but after doing some tests they said it was an inert growth likely due to encapsulation of metal shavings from the metal-on-metal hip implant. Cornelis explained that his body was rejecting the metal shavings from his metal hip but when that didn’t work his tissue would encapsulate it.

In addition, blood tests revealed that he had a major infection in the hip where the ball goes into the socket, which his surgeon thought was related to the failed hip.

Cornelis’ hip implant was removed and for 3 months, he was without a hip and had to administer intravenous antibiotics to treat his infection. After the infection cleared, Cornelis received a new hip implant made of ceramic, which, although very painful, is functioning well. His surgeon said his pain may never go away.

Cornelis believes a good warranty “should include not just a time limit, but also provide for damages in case of failure, as well as free surgeries to correct the problems, or provide for a new implant of your and your surgeon’s choice.” He learned firsthand that hip implants can fail. A good warranty would help inform patients about how long their implants will last and establish a system for patients to use if they need a defective implant replaced.

Marilyn from Spokane, WA, who supports a lifetime warranty for hip and knee implants, told us about her hip implant experience:

I was told that the doctor will choose the implant, that I have no say in the matter. Both hip implants have performed as expected. So far. The metal-on-metal one has ached and clunked some; the plastic on metal one has not done that.

Linda from Avon, OH shared her knee replacement story with us:

Was never offered a choice. Have shifting but they say it’s not bad enough to do revision surgery. Feels like bottom goes one way and top goes another. Also have burning sensation when I try to kneel. Have to have other knee replaced and will be going to different doctor and have a different brand of knee replacement.

Linda supports a 20-year warranty. She said, “If anything goes wrong with the implant and has to be replaced the manufacturer should pay for the replacement and also all doctor and hospital billings. We are not talking about something small. I wasn’t able to drive for 6 wks and missed so much work.”