Andrew Archer, an attorney at a top law firm in Melbourne, was 41 when he had hip replacement surgery in 2008. He received a Mitch Stryker THR, a metal-on-metal design that he says gave him “nothing but pain from the word go.”
In the six years following the hip replacement surgery, Archer underwent four additional operations that did little to ease his pain.
“My wife said it was like living with a different person,” Archer said, “and we’ve been together 20 years. From 2000 to 2005 I worked in a top-tier law firm at full pelt – almost four years without a decent holiday, which was my choice. With the hip, I was struggling to get through an average week and I started having uncharacteristic health problems. Severe chest pains, extreme fatigue, sensitivity to light and other bizarre and unexplained infirmities. There was a merry-go-round of medical appointments, with all their time and cost implications.”
Finally, last September, the metal-on-metal hip was replaced with a ceramic model. However, the myriad of symptoms didn’t disappear immediately. Archer endured five trips to the emergency room by ambulance and had to be re-admitted to the hospital in the first eight weeks. His 6-year-old son began asking if his father was going to die.
“We have no family in Melbourne,” Archer pointed out. “The burden my wife has carried with three young children has been extraordinary.”
Metal-on-metal hips have been under scrutiny in the last few years because patients have been experiencing issues such as metallosis, a dangerous blood condition that occurs when the ball and cup of the hip implant rub together and shed metal bits that make their way into the bloodstream. The metal wear can cause damage to the surrounding tissue and muscle.
Study after study claims that the excessive metal ions (cobalt and chromium) get absorbed into the bone marrow, impairing cells that are responsible for bone mineralization, a vital process in bone formation.
Makers of metal-on-metal hips have their hands full with the number of lawsuits pouring in from patients that have complained of similar symptoms as Andrew Archer. With the high failure rates of the artificial hips, the manufacturers may not see an end to the lawsuits anytime soon.