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Hi Earl,

Had a Mitch Stryker total hip replacement , metal on metal, implanted October 2007 at age 43, I have led a very active sporting life and the replacement was needed as a result, i presume, my right hip was diagnosed as arthritic.

As a result of the operation I developed nerve damage and basically had a “dead leg” from the hip down, the resulting “drop foot”, and muscle wastage,made life even more difficult than It needed to be.

After the long periods of “lows” I encountered, and nerve pain which I couldn’t ease, fast forward 18 months, a course of time, of new determination and belief, enabled me to progress to returning to work on light duties initially, then full time, in my role as a Police Officer. The nerve damage had not repaired and rejuvenated fully, but sufficiently enough to allow me to complete all day to day activities.

( I had kept active leading up to the operation, being a keen member of the local cycle club i kept riding to help myself get through and recover well, so I thought at the time. The Surgeon later told me that the nerve was either bruised or stretched during the surgery, due to me being heavily muscled, the nerve damage may well have occurred during the traction stage as I was not as supple as say an “older” person. Either way I got it, a 1% chance!)

So, at two years post op I tried to “ignore”, and not believe that a pain I began to feel in my groin region, then hip region, was actually that “pain” that was all too familiar from the past. I said nothing, not even to my wife, I did not want to believe that this horrible chapter was trying to reintroduce itself to me. It was not long before my wife was on my case, she doesn’t miss much, she had me booking in to see our GP and the surgeon again. Our GP believed quality of life was important and recommended voltaren, – (diclofenac), to assist with the pain, the surgeon after xrays which showed no abnormalities offered that it was possibly soft tissue rubbing, and we would monitor it but also recommended diclofenac to help.

The diclofenac took the edge off the hip pain and I managed to do all that I needed to do.

So, 2011, still taking diclofenac, pain ever present, beginning to get worse. Finding it hard to sleep again, hard to find a comfortable position, pillow between legs again, tossing, turning, irritable with family (4 sons), and workmates, public, back to surgeon, blood tests, xrays, ultrasound etc.

Fast forward 13 April 2012, media announces recall of MITCH THR devices 2006-2010 with a high failure rate I am fortunate enough to be one of only 41 cases in New Zealand! (winner again). Coincidentally my surgeon makes contact to inform me of the announcement, and plan of attack. Do I want it out straight away ? or do we due further tests and get a better “picture” ??

Well, after the 1st operation, I thought, as he did, further blood tests, ultrasound, and MRI scans would give a better picture. My wife and mother n law, thought otherwise.
Ultrasound showed fluid, not good, blood tests showed one metal level high and other low, (chromium/cobalt), literature supplied by Stryker according to surgeon did not put me in the “must operate column”, GP later agreed, basically the metal in blood levels were not elevated enough, so next, MRI booking.

Changes began happening, my ears kept ringing, and ringing, annoying, a rash on my forearm, persistent, GP’s prescribed cream would not cure, pain in finger an “itchy” type pain, last a few days then move to another finger, my focus on small print, hard to read, do I need glasses, maybe just old age? Hip area becoming noticably more sore, then, my upper thigh was noticably bigger than the other, by over an inch! It had swelled, now I was worried!!

August 2012, Back to the surgeon again, yes it is swollen, referred to an “Expert” in Auckland, one of the best in field, “You have an infection in hip due to initial op in 2007″ explains procedure, – 2 operations, 6 months recovery, worst case scenario explained to me , hit with a sledgehammer!! then had a 6 hour drive back home.

Next day my surgeon arranges extraction of fluid via ultrasound from region of my “pseudo tumor”, as recommended by expert, fortunately cultures show no infection initially, but very high “reaction”. A week later I am in theatre, revision surgery to remove “problem”, and, two thirds of my abductor muscle, and 15% of quad muscle, due to metallosis and reaction, went with it. Operation took over 5 an half hours due to tissue damage.

I now have a ceramic ball and plastic cup, and at week 11 post op, I am getting around ok doing lots of physio and pool work. I am not back at work yet, that is still a wait and see. I no longer take diclofenac, for that I am pleased, however the pain/itch in fingers is still there, moved to other hand now, ringing is persistent as ever, eyes have not improved, rash is still there, still irritable, but pseudo tumor has decreased in size. Due to see surgeon again next week, week 12, hoping for good news, one of my concerns is the original stem was not deemed a problem so was left in, I look to the future and “hope” for the best, I am told the metal works its way out of your system in time, and now the “problem” has been removed I can only hope.

I was impressed with the research you had done Earl, and feel “akin” to you, as we share common ground. In retrospect I feel that things may have been different for me with the information I now know. I hope someone else may get something out of my brief summary of my last 5 years with metal on metal.

(my wife commented to the surgeon back in 2007, “surely metal on metal will rub together with friction, will it not?) What would my wife know? I love her dearly.

But alas, in 2007 they were the “best” available for “active” “young” people, the best technology could offer, the rest is history..

Regards, Ropata.

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