Lynne McKay was a healthy 50-year old former nurse that suffered from hip dysplasia, a painful condition in which growths form at the hip joints. She could barely make it to the mailbox and back.
“I got to a place where I could only walk to the letterbox with two walking sticks,” McKay recalls.
She was admitted in 2007 for a double hip replacement and received the Stryker Mitch THR (total hip replacement) System, with metal components made of cobalt and chromium. She was excited to finally get her life back.
Almost immediately, McKay began experiencing pain. Her hips clicked when she walked. Within two years after the surgery, she began seeing signs of somekind of toxicity. Her ability to see in colors faded, something she noticed when her yellow, green and blue curtains dulled, and the yellow disappeared altogether, and she was the only one seeing them that way. McKay began experiencing memory loss, and even wondered if she had Alzheimer’s.
“I couldn’t hold a thought,” she said. “I was always in tears. My words weren’t coming out right.”
She knew something was wrong when she could taste metal in her mouth. “When I licked my lips I could taste metal,” said McKay. “There was a metallic film on top of the water in the toilet and I was having to clean it every day. I was peeing [metal] ions.”
When she received a notice in the mail about the Stryker Mitch THR System recall, she contacted the hospital to see if her hips could be the problem. She underwent blood tests that showed incredibly high cobalt and chromium levels in her blood. Normal chromium levels are between zero and 20 microscopic nanomoles per litre – but McKay’s levels were at 326 nmol/l. Cobalt normal levels are between zero and 16 nmol/l. McKay’s were at 378.
In the end, McKay underwent six hip replacements in six years, and still lives with pain in every step.
The Stryker Mitch THR System isn’t the only metal-on-metal hip implant to experience issues with metallosis and premature wear and tear. The issues include failure within five years, loosening, bone erosion, damage to surrounding tissue and metallosis, a dangerous blood condition that occurs when metal bits flake off the device and make their way into the bloodstream.