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Wright Medical: Conserve, Dynasty, Profemur & Other Hip Implants

Wright Medical used to sell a variety of hip replacement products including metal-on-metal implants such as Conserve, Dynasty and Profemur implants. But several all-metal models caused complications. People harmed by the implants filed lawsuits against Wright, and the company settled hundreds of them out of court.

Once an industry leader in hip and knee replacements, Wright Medical sold off that part of its business in 2013. It now focuses on implants for what the medical device industry refers to as extremities — arms, hands, feet and ankle.

MicroPort Medical purchased Wright’s OrthoRecon hip and knee manufacturing division for $290 million in 2013. The sale came as Wright faced increasing reports of problems with its metal-on-metal hip implants such as its Conserve, Dynasty and Profemur product lines.

People harmed by the faulty hip implants filed lawsuits against Wright, and the company settled hundreds of them out of court. While Wright Medical no longer makes hip replacements, it was legally responsible for faulty hips made while it owned OrthoRecon and for some models MicroPort continued to make for a time after the sale.

Wright Medical Metal-on-Metal Hip Blamed for Complications

The company’s total hip replacements included its ceramic hip system, hard-bearing surfaces and proprietary neck modularity. Wright used alumina oxide ceramic to manufacture its Lineage liners and femoral heads to create an industry-leading ceramic-on-ceramic hip system. But the company’s metal-on-metal hips proved to be the most prone to complications and failure.

Injured by a Wright hip replacement? Free Case Review

Hip replacements mimic the hip’s natural ball-and-socket arrangement. Metal-on-metal hip implants use alloys made from chromium, cobalt, or other metals to make both the ball and the socket portions. A metal ball is attached atop the thighbone and a metal socket, or cup, is mounted in the hip bone.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have proven to be particularly problematic since they first became popular in the early part of this century. Friction between the metal ball and metal socket can release microscopic amounts of metal. This can lead to a condition called metallosis – a serious form of metal poisoning.

The buildup of metal ions in tissue surrounding the implant can lead to muscle, bone and other tissue death. This can also lead to the joint dislocating or failing in some other way.

Other consumers have alleged that the defective design of metal-on-metal devices from Wright’s Conserve, Dynasty and Lineage product lines led to early device failure and the release of metal debris into the body.

Complaints about Wright Medical Hip Replacements
  • Early device failure
  • Metallosis – metal poisoning or metal toxicity
  • Infection
  • Bone and tissue damage

Study: Wright Conserve Hips High Failure Rate

A 2016 study found high, sooner-than-expected failure rates among 108 Wright Conserve metal-on-metal hips. The hips were implanted in 98 patients – some patients having both hips replaced. Usually, only 1 in 10 hip implants will fail within 15 years of being implanted. But the Conserve hips in the study failed in larger numbers and sooner.

Researchers found roughly 2 in 10 Conserve hips failed over the scope of their analysis – November 2005 and December 2010. On average, patients receiving Conserve hips required revision surgery after only four years and three months following the original surgery to implant them.

Problems with Wright Conserve Hip Replacements

The FDA reported more than 200 adverse events from Wright hip replacements

Wright Medical’s Conserve hip replacement line was created to respond to the demand for durable implants for younger, more active people. One of the greatest concerns that doctors face when younger patients develop hip problems is finding an implant that can withstand an active lifestyle.

According to Wright, its Conserve implants provided excellent range of motion with low particle wear and long-term dependability. Wright also claimed its Conserve hip replacement designs reduced the chance of soft tissue impingement, which can lead to dislocation.

Conserve hip implants began demonstrating higher than normal failure rates. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received reports of more than 200 adverse events that caused severe pain in the hip and groin, loosening and metal toxicity in the blood.

Problems with Wright Profemur Z Hips Implants

The Conserve Total Hip acetabular cup and ball were designed to be used with a number of stems, including the Profemur Z. The Profemur Z had a modular neck and stem system that was made of titanium alloy. Modular necks and stems allow surgeons to customize length for each patient to provide a better fit.

X-ray of Wright's Profemur and Conserve Hip Implants
Radiographs of the pelvis showing a Profemur Modular stem and Conserve Cup

Shortly after Wright sold its hip and knee manufacturing unit to MicroPort, the new manufacturer started receiving reports of failures with the Profemur modular neck.

Complications reported with the wright Profemur Z:
  • Corrosion
  • Fretting – wear damage from two surfaces rubbing together
  • Femoral neck fracture
  • Fractures

In 2015, MicroPort voluntarily recalled the Wright Medical-designed Profemur Neck Varus/Valgus CoCr 8 Degree modular neck due to the risk of fractures.

The FDA classified MicroPort’s action as a Class I recall: “a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”

Though made on MicroPort’s watch, Wright Medical assumed legal liability for the devices.

“An acute fracture will require revision surgery to remove and replace the neck and stem components. Acute fracture and emergency revision surgery is a serious adverse health consequence and could lead to neurovascular damage, hematoma, hemorrhage, and even death.”

FDA Recall Notice for Wright Profemur Hip Component, October 2015

Wright Medical Lineage and Dynasty Hip Replacements

Wright Medical also manufactured two more model lines of hip replacements, the Lineage and the Dynasty. These hip implants came in a variety of sizes and were made of different material combinations.

Materials used in Wright Lineage & Dynasty Models:
  • Ceramic-on-ceramic
  • Metal-on-polyethylene (plastic)
  • Ceramic-on-metal
  • Metal-on-metal

Wright Hips: Metallosis Symptoms and Complications

Wright hip replacements were one of several lines of metal-on-metal hips associated with metallosis in patients. Metallosis can affect the skin, nervous system and internal organs. People who develop it may not experience any symptoms, but doctors can detect it through blood tests. Tests can reveal if there is an elevated level of metal ions in a patient’s blood.

Signs and Symptoms of Metallosis:
  • Clicking or other sounds coming from implant
  • Infection
  • Implant loosening
  • Skin rashes

Treating metallosis typically requires removing and replacing the implant. If left untreated, metallosis can result in several serious complications.

Metallosis Complications Include:
  • Auditory impairment that can result in deafness
  • Cognitive impairment or memory issues
  • Depression, anxiety or other mental health issues
  • Heart problems, including heart failure
  • Nerve problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Visual impairment that may result in blindness

Wright Settles Lawsuits Over Faulty Hip Replacements

Wright faced roughly 2,000 lawsuits over its various hip replacements and agreed to two settlements to resolve all of them.

In 2017, the Tennessee-based device maker offered to settle hundreds of personal injury lawsuits from people across the country who alleged that their Wright implants caused medical complications. Many of them required revision surgeries to remove the device and treat their injuries.

Wright Medical Hip Models Named in Lawsuits:
  • Conserve
  • Dynasty
  • Lineage
  • Profemur

Wright paid $240 million to settle 1,292 claims against its Dynasty and Lineage implants in November 2016, but hundreds of cases were not covered by the agreement.

The company announced in October 2017 it would settle the remaining 600 or so lawsuits still active for an additional $90 million.

Following the settlement, the court closed the Wright MDL in June 2018.

Wright expected to deliver the final settlement payments in September 2019.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Terry Turner
Written By Terry Turner Writer

Terry Turner has been writing articles and producing news broadcasts for more than 25 years. He covers FDA policy, proton pump inhibitors, and medical devices such as hernia mesh, IVC filters, and hip and knee implants. An Emmy-winning journalist, he has reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Some of his qualifications include:

  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in Washington Examiner, MedPage Today and The New York Times
  • Appeared as an expert panelist on hernia mesh lawsuits on the BBC
Edited By
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Aimee V. Hachigian-Gould
Dr. Aimee V. Hachigian-Gould Orthopedic Surgeon

14 Cited Research Articles

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  2. Hernandez, A., Gargallo-Margarit, A., Barro, V., Gallardo-Calero, I., & Sallent, A. (2015). Fracture of the Modular Neck in Total Hip Arthroplasty. Case Reports in Orthopedics, 2015, 591509. Retrieved From: http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/591509
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  4. Wright Medical. (2013, June 19). Wright Medical Group, Inc. and MicroPort Scientific Corporation Enter Into Definitive Agreement Under Which MicroPort Will Acquire Wright’s OrthoRecon Business. Retrieved from http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=129751&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1831451
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  8. FDA.gov. (2015, August 7). MicroPort Orthopedics Inc., PROFEMUR Neck Varus/Valgus CoCr 8 Degree, Part Number PHAC 1254. Retrieved from https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112164121/http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm465529.htm
  9. Wright Medical. (2016, November 2). Wright Medical Group N.V. Announces Entry into Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation Settlement Agreement. Retrieved from: http://ir.wright.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=129751&p=RssLanding&cat=news&id=2218769
  10. Mogensen, S.S., et al. (2016, March 29). High Re-Operation Rates Using Conserve Metal-On-Metal Total Hip Articulations. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814723/
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  12. Brennan, Z. (2016, February 17). FDA to Require PMAs for Two Types of Hip Replacement Devices. Retrieved from http://www.raps.org/Regulatory-Focus/News/2016/02/17/24347/FDA-to-Require-PMAs-for-Two-Types-of-Hip-Replacement-Devices/
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017, February 2). Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Systems. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/MetalonMetalHipImplants/ucm241601.htm
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