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Cartiva Toe Implant Failures

  • April 12, 2023
  • kbaattorneystg
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People suffering from arthritis and other painful conditions effecting their big toe have a few options. They can use a medical device called a toe implant. Doctors may fuse their bones. They may use more conservative and traditional pain-relieving methods. For those who chose the Cartiva toe implant, many suffer.

Cartiva Toe Implant Failure: What You Should Know

Within the last year, a number of plaintiffs filed civil product liability claims against the medical device company Cartiva, the developer of a popular synthetic cartilage implant. These implants were sold and marketed as safe, suitable treatments to remedy the symptoms of big toe arthritis.

Big toe arthritis, AKA hallux rigidus, is a condition that can lead to excruciating chronic pain, making it difficult to walk, stand, or apply even the slightest pressure on said toe. It’s a particularly pervasive condition among older adults – according to the Cleveland Clinic, big toe arthritis affects roughly 1 in 40 individuals over the age of 50!

Cartiva’s artificial cartilage implants are meant to cushion the big toe, alleviate the pain of hallux rigidus, and improve the toe’s range of motion. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for every patient using Cartiva implants, and in 2022, a few of those patients came forward as plaintiffs.

Though Cartiva has explicitly labeled their products with a ten or less percent failure rate, the Plaintiffs’ Cartiva’s product failures have failed patients in serious ways, with serious health complications.

If you or a loved one was failed by Cartiva’s Synthetic Cartilage Implants, you might be entitled to compensation.

What Is A Cartiva Toe Implant?

Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implants (or SCIs for short) are cylindrical hydrogel implant devices. They resemble and replace the cartilage in the big toe joint space. Arthritis wears away and deteriorates joints over time. As such, many patients experience bone on bone grinding. Toe implants can replace the cartilage.

The synthetic cartilage is implanted through an orthopedic surgical procedure. The average Cartiva toe implant recovery time for most patients will typically span five to six weeks. Part of the appeal of this implant was that its recovery times were faster than the recovery times of metal big toe cartilage implants, and it could avoid or delay a fusion surgery. Unfortunately, that occurred for some patients, but not others.

While it’s true that these big toe implants came with a label warning of their “13.5%” failure rate, the evidence suggests worse post-market. The failure rate it much higher. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

For example, one lawsuit identifies 144 adverse reports. There are many more unreported. As but one estimate, the failure rate could be six to seven times higher than what the manufacturer purported.

Clinical evidence potentially indicates that Cartiva was under-reporting this failure rate too. In a 2-year study led by researchers from Cedar-Sinai Hospital, approximately 30% of the surveyed SCI recipients expressed feelings of dissatisfaction after undergoing the procedure. Nearly 24% of respondents were “very dissatisfied” with the procedure.

A different study, published in the journal Foot and Ankle Orthopedics, estimates that Cartiva’s synthetic cartilage implants could potentially have a 64% long-term failure rate. These synthetic implants were marketed as reliable, pain-relieving devices that patients could reliably expect to alleviate their big toe arthritis with minimal risk.

Sadly, the risks associated with Cartiva’s big toe SCI device are far from “minimal.”

Cartiva Implant Problems

The consequences of Cartiva big toe implant errors can be devastating, debilitating, and greatly diminishing quality of life. At a minimum, failed Cartiva toe implants can slip out of a joint, painfully lodging into the bone, and may require further surgical intervention to relieve.

Ironically, defective Cartiva can nullify their original purpose. Rather than alleviating pain, Cartiva implants can exacerbate big toe pain and injury. The implant can necessitate even more surgery.

Plaintiffs filing lawsuits claim it has. Several have required two more surgeries after the Cartiva toe implant failed.  One ultimate outcome is an arthrodesis fusion surgery.

Big toe fusion surgery can offer long-term relief, but often following a painful weeks-long recovery process that could potentially sideline:

  • Physical activity (like running or weight lifting);
  • Working, especially in active jobs or job functions; and
  • Dressing, such as wearing certain shoes (see this Mayo Clinic guide), and other daily living activities.

     Potential Cartiva Toe Implant Injuries

If you had a Cartiva SCI procedure, you may suffer from any of the following: 

  • Nerve damage & numbness
  • Loss of mobility in the toe
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Irritation & inflammation
  • Bone production issues
  • Severe toe and foot pain
  • Big toe implant fracture
  • Formation of toe cysts
  • Big toe fusion surgery
  • Lesions in the big toe
  • Joint removal surgery
  • Transfer metatarsalgia
  • Infection

The physical, emotional, and financial a failed Cartiva can cost can be immense. Indeed, the last thing one wants after a procedure as expensive as a big toe surgery are more procedures, and more medical expenses. Likewise, based on past product and defective device lawsuits, we can reasonably expect that future Cartiva Toe Implant Lawsuit claims to continue. 

That said, legal issues like preemptions and statutes of limitations may impede recovery. Experienced product liability lawyers may be able to help.

Consider KBA Attorneys For Your Cartiva Toe Implant Lawsuit

At KBA Attorneys, we have decades of combined professional experience in navigating these claims. If you or a loved one suffered orthopedic health complications resulting from a faulty Cartiva big toe implant, you might be eligible to file a legal claim. To learn more about our team and how we might be able to help you, contact our office by clicking here.