DePuy knee replacement side effects range from the complications that are possible with any knee surgery to those that have been found to occur more often with some of the company’s artificial knee systems and components. Having a knee replacement surgery is serious and comes with many possible risks, but for many people it also means regaining mobility and being free of pain.
The knee systems made by DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, have been found to be problematic in some cases. The company has faced recalls over components and systems that have caused a high rate of bone loss, joint instability, and other issues. While knee replacement surgery can be life-changing in a positive way for many people, ending up with a faulty artificial joint can be devastating and can cause long-lasting consequences.
Knee Replacement Surgeries: Side Effects and Complications
Knee replacement surgeries are done when someone has a damaged joint that causes significant pain and reduced mobility. If knee damage, caused by arthritis, injury, or other causes, is bad enough, it can restrict a person’s movement and seriously hamper quality of life. For these reasons, the risks of major surgery are often considered to be outweighed by the benefits of getting a new knee.
There are different types of knee replacement surgery, depending on the type and extent of damage to the joint. For a total knee replacement, the whole joint is replaced with a complete, working artificial joint. When damage is not extensive, a surgeon may do a partial knee replacement. This involves removing damaged bone and tissue and replacing it with the necessary artificial parts. When part of an artificial knee fails, a surgeon may conduct a revision surgery.
Any surgery comes with risks, such as bad reactions to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, infections, and blood clots. Knee surgery carries particular risks. These include deep infection in the joint, which is harder to treat than a more surface infection. Knee surgery can also result in one leg being longer than the other, decreased range of motion in the joint, reduced mobility, and damage to the surrounding tissue caused by the artificial joint. DePuy knee systems carry all of these risks, just like any other types of artificial knees, but analysis of patients and studies have found that some of their systems cause more problems than is considered normal.
DePuy Knee Systems
DePuy knee replacement side effects include all the possible complications that come with any knee surgery using any type of artificial joint. Some of the joints made by the company, though, have been proven to increase the risk of certain side effects and complications.
DePuy makes both fixed bearing, and rotating knees. The former includes a bearing that is fixed in place and does not move as naturally as a rotating knee. These are an older-style of knee, but one that is still used in some patients. Rotating platform knees are supposed to give better range of motion and to be more durable. They are newer and designed to give a patient movement that is more similar to a natural knee.
Among DePuy’s most high-tech rotating knees are the high flexion knees and the TruMatch knees. The high flexion artificial knees rotate at least 155 degrees, more than fixed bearing knees. The TruMatch systems are even more high-tech and are designed to be customized for each individual patient for a better fit. Surgeons are able to scan a patient’s legs so that DePuy can make a custom joint. The system also comes with specialized tools to work with the knew knee.
Other knees made by DePuy include the Sigma and CR150 high flex knees, both of which are on fixed bearings. The rotating models include the LCS Complete, Sigma RP-F, and Sigma Rotating Platform Knee Systems. DePuy also makes revision systems, components designed to be used in revision surgeries to replace or repair artificial knees.
One of the more serious potential knee replacement side effects that can occur after a DePuy knee system or other artificial knee is used is a joint infection. Infection is always a risk in surgery, but when the entire joint is exposed, the risk increases that a serious infection deep in the joint will occur. The risk of such an infection is particularly high for patients undergoing a revision surgery.
Joint infections caused by replacement surgery can be classified as early, delayed, or late, depending on how long they occur after the surgery. Late infections are often caused by infections in other parts of the body moving into the joint, and it can be very serious. To reduce the risk, patients with artificial knees are supposed to take a course of antibiotics if having another type of surgery.
Osteolysis is yet another serious possible side effect of knee replacement surgery. It is the loss of bone tissue that may occur because fragments of the artificial joint break off and irritate the surrounding tissues. This can lead to the immune system going on the attack, which often leads to an attack on bone tissue as well.
Osteolysis is most common with knee replacement systems that are made of polyethylene, a type of plastic. The plastic fragments trigger the immune system more often than other types of material. The results of losing bone tissue around the joint can be very serious. The artificial joint may come loose and this can then cause other bone tissue to become damaged. This can become painful and usually leads to revision surgeries.
DePuy Knee Side Effects and Recalls
All of these potential complications are possible with DePuy knees, but some of the company’s artificial joints have proven to increase the risk more than others. One issue that the company has faced was allowing knee systems and components to be placed on the market before they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA allows some medical devices to be approved without rigorous testing, but they still have to go through an approval process. DePuy was found to have significantly changed some knee systems without getting approval. This means that the company may have placed devices on the market that were not safe and that could cause more side effects for patients.
In 2013 the FDA again warned DePuy of its wrongdoing when it found that one component, called a diaphyseal sleeve from one of the revision systems was faulty. The part was designed to help reconstruct damaged bone and tissue in the joint and is inserted into bone to provide support. The component was found to be unable to support the full load of a person’s weight, which can lead to harmful and painful bone fractures. These parts were recalled.
DePuy’s high flexion knee was also found to cause more damaging side effects than comparable knee systems. Following patients with this knee implanted, it was found that the experienced more wear on their bones, which led to instability and eventually more complications. One-third of patients receiving the knee had to have revision surgeries. If you have ever had a DePuy knee replacement and feel that you were the victim of unnecessary side effects, you may want to look into your legal options. A lawyer can help you decide if you have a case to make against DePuy.