Alison Pulito suffered hip problems for years because of childhood hip dysplasia. When she reached her 40s, she could barely walk and decided it was time to have a hip replacement. A former health care consultant, Alison did thorough homework and decided on an innovative new chromium-and-cobalt hip implant made by DePuy Orthopedics. But what Alison never imagined was that the surgery to improve her life would make it a living hell.
Immediately after hip replacement surgery, the results were amazing, Alison recalls. “I sent e-mails to my surgeon saying thank you so much for, you know, taking my pain away and giving me this opportunity to get on a bike with my kids and walk my dogs,” she told ABC News. But five months after surgery, the pain returned. “It was incredibly painful,” she said.
Alison’s artificial hip system was beginning to fall apart. She wasn’t the only one with problems. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving reports of a higher than expected number of failures on the DePuy devices, which led to a worldwide recall. The devices were found to loosen from the bone, fracture the bone they were attached to, or dislocate. In some cases, the rubbing of metal-against-metal caused bits of metal to leach into the bloodstream, a painful inflammatory condition called metallosis that may put people at risk for dementia and heart failure. An estimated 93,000 people are affected by the recall, and as many as 12 percent could experience complications that may lead to a second surgery to replace the faulty device.
Alison was one of the unlucky ones. She required two more surgeries. She now walks with a cane and can only hope she won’t end up in a wheelchair. “I’m angry, and I feel like this shouldn’t happen in the United States,” she says. “I think, you know, patients and consumers, we rely on our doctors, we rely on the products they use.”