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Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Implant Lawsuit


The Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Replacement (BHR) is a type of metal-on-metal hip implant that is used in hip resurfacing procedures. Unfortunately, due to high rates of complications, S&N has issued a Safety Warning for the BHR and they have recalled the R3 metal liner. Researchers have also warned that hip resurfacing implants should not be used in women due to the risk of complications.

UPDATE: S&N Birmingham Hip Implant Lawsuits Filed

September 22, 2012 — Another Birmingham hip implant lawsuit has been filed, this time in California by a man who suffered toxic metal poisoning and required revision surgery due to the implant.

October 17, 2012 — Cheryl Elmore has filed a Birmingham hip implant lawsuit in Illinois. After she was implanted with the device in 2008, she suffered elevated levels of metal in her bloodstream, a grinding sensation in her hip joint, and required revision surgery. Click here to read more.

June 1, 2012 — Smith & Nephew recalled the R3 Acetabular System, a metal liner used with the Birmingham implant.

Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Implant

Smith & Nephew is a medical device company that manufactures the Birmingham Hip Replacement (BHR). The BHR is a “metal-on-metal” hip implant — the first one approved in the United States. The design has been mimicked by many other manufacturers, including some that have issued recalls and are now facing thousands of lawsuits. These lawsuits are not part of a class action — they are individual lawsuits.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have unique risks in addition to the risks of all hip implants, according to the FDA. When a patient with a metal hip implant walks or runs, the metal “ball and socket” grinds together. It can shed tiny particles of chromium and cobalt around the hip or into a patient’s bloodstream. Over time, complications like inflammation, tissue death, bone loss, chronic pain, and decreased mobility may force a patient to undergo revision surgery.

Hip Resurfacing Failure Rates “Unacceptably High”

The Smith & Nephew Birmingham is a hip resurfacing implant, which is an alternative to total hip replacement surgery. Instead of replacing the entire hip, a surgeon places a mushroom-shaped metal cap over the head of the femur, which pivots inside a metal cup that is implanted in the pelvis.

Unfortunately, in addition to the risks of having a metal-on-metal hip implant, resurfacing implants are also associated with severe complications. In October 2012, The Lancet published a study that found 8.3% of hip resurfacing implants failed within 5 years for women over 55. After finding this alarmingly high rate of failure, researchers warned:

“Resurfacing failure rates in women were unacceptably high. In view of these findings, we recommend that resurfacing procedures are not undertaken in women.”

Safety Warning for Birmingham Modular Head Implant

Smith & Nephew has also issued warnings about higher-than-normal risks associated with the Birmingham hip implant. In an “Urgent Field Safety Notice” that was published in September 2012, the company warned:

“The average revision rate for the Birmingham hip with all stems is currently 1.29 revisions per 100 observed component years in the National Joint Registry of England and Wales and 1.12 revisions per 100 observed component years in the Australian Orthopaedic Association’s National Joint Replacement Registry. These rates exceed the 1% benchmark revision rate established by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).”

Hip Implant Side Effects

  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation or irritation in the hip
  • Tissue damage
  • Bone loss
  • Dislocation of the hip joint
  • Decreased walking ability
  • Metal poisoning
  • High levels of cobalt and chromium in the bloodstream
  • Growth of soft-tissue bursas or pseudo-tumors
  • Systemic reactions
  • Failure of the hip implant
  • Revision surgery
  • And more

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