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Hip Replacement Manufacturer Sued for Cobalt Poisoning

Cody Porcoro

Written by
— Updated on January 10, 2022

This medical malpractice lawsuit concerns a middle-aged man who underwent a right total hip arthroplasty to combat his hip degenerative disease, but ultimately left him with a lower quality of life. Allegedly, the Stryker replacement device had leaked cobalt into the patient’s body, causing toxic levels of the substance to enter his bloodstream. He began to feel fatigue, exhibited insomnia, felt numbness in his hands and feet, and saw his skin becoming rapidly discolored. The man’s teeth also began to crack, his hair fell out, and he experienced multi-organ failure. After confronting doctors with his debilitating symptoms, he was diagnosed with cobalt poisoning that doctors believed was leaking directly from the hip device. Though his doctors applied aggressive medical treatment and management to his condition, the patient’s cobalt levels remained high at the time of trial when he alleged that Stryker had contributed directly to his severe health decline.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What are the symptoms of Cobalt poisoning?
  • 2. What are the long-term complications of cobalt poisoning?

Expert Witness Response E-001196

Exposure to cobalt ions inhibits osteoblast function by reducing alkaline phosphatase activity and calcium deposition, and it induces the secretion of proteins IL-8 and MCP-1 in primary human osteoblasts. Other effects on cells include abnormal lymphocyte function, chemokine secretion and ischaemic changes in rat brains. I don’t believe that a relationship between symptoms and peak cobalt levels, or the length of exposure to cobalt, has been established. There seems to be some recurring papers in the literature that these defective hip implants are problems.

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