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Received Overnight from Another Person Suffering with Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing

I have removed the person’s identity as they are still going through this and the problem is not with the surgeon – but with Smith & Nephew and their BHR.


BHR 3 images

Hi Earl,

I discovered your blog via ‘flipboard’ on my ipad following tweets that mention metal-on-metal hips.

I started looking for answers to my many questions after my surgeon told me a couple of weeks ago that my Smith & Nephew, Birmingham Hip re-surfacing would require revision.

I am 49 years old and my surgery was nine years ago in XXXXX, Australia and for most of that time I have suffered flu-like symptoms including aching joints, headaches, lethargy and a general feeling of malaise.

I have been to General Practitioners and specialists including a rheumatologist and haematologist.

Not one of them has suspected it could be caused by my chromium cobalt hip, despite raised ESR and detection of abnormal proteins (cryoglobulin).

S N Logo images

After ruling out lymphoma my haematologist diagnosed my condition as a “non-specific autoimmune disorder” and for about twelve months prescribed prednisolone, methotrexate and plaquenil. There was no change to my symptoms.

By late 2009 my hip had become very painful. X-rays showed the prosthesis in place with no bone damage but the MRI showed thickening of the synovium. I underwent a synovectomy in Feb 2010 to trim the thickened synovium. This surgery successfully relieved my pain.

A couple of weeks ago I had a scheduled follow up with my surgeon. The hip has been pain free but I have developed a large lump mid thigh. MRI showed fluid and debris around the joint. I asked the radiographer to scan the lump as well. It was made up of he same fluid and debris as the hip joint.

My surgeon took a sample of the fluid for pathology and ordered the chromium cobalt blood test. He then recommended revision surgery using the de-puy ceramic on ceramic prosthesis.

I have a few questions:

  1. Do you think we will see cases brought against Smith & Nephew (for the Birmingham Hip) like those currently being brought against Johnson & Johnson, and would a class action be likely to follow?
  2. Do you know anything about the de-puy ceramic on ceramic total hip prosthesis?
  3. While I have top private medical insurance, this unanticipated revision surgery will leave me out of pocket. Is there anything to gain/lose by asking my surgeon, his assistant and anesthetist to keep there fees within the health fund schedule?

Here is my reply

I thought I had a problem or two – but not judging from what you are going through.
I am 53 & had my op 3 years ago in NZ – the surgeon told me I was getting stainless steel and being totally trusting because I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk I believed him!
I now live in QLD and have Medibank Private Ultra.

Answering your questions

Question 1

I think that over the next year or so we will identify a lot of problems with S&N – you are the third one in a matter of a few days – I just had a lady from Canada – with two BHR’s but the left one has failed twice – onto her 4th operation.
Howard Sadwin in the US has had a hell year – 9 months in hospital & no hip left.
I will have a dossier within a few months to get things rolling…

Question 2

I have read up on it – but I have no background data – will see what I can find & get it to you. Guess I fundamentally don’t trust DePuy/J&J…
Ceramic on ceramic can have fracturing problems – depends on your sporting activities I guess – and they can squeak which could be damned annoying in a number settings, socially and privately!!!

Question 3

I am doing the same as my Birmingham Spectron is going to need a revision too – I am in the Public System as I didn’t realise the extent of the problem but now I do I am going private – on Monday, in fact.
I have made a lot of enquiries – the surgeon I am going to only has a “gap” of about $500 and so I can live with that – the hospital is 100% taken care of. I am using medicare bulk billing places for the CAT Scans, MRI’s etc.


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