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In August of 2008 at the age of 49 I had a Birmingham Resurfacing of my right hip.  This hip had been arthroscopically debrided in 2004 for an acetabular labrum tear.  I was told at that time that I would likely need a total hip replacement at some point because of the cartilege damage that found.
I had an uneventful recovery from the Birmingham, (it was done by a very experienced surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City).  I returned to my regular activities including working as a registered nurse first assistant in the operating room at 6 weeks post-op.
About 11 months (the fall of 2009) after the resurfacing, I started having all sorts of “strange” symptoms.  First I developed tachycardia (rapid heart rate) with chest pain.  I went to a cardiologist that investigated everything thoroughly and the only thing that she could find that was abnormal was that I had a small pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) that she felt may have caused the abnormal rhythm.
Shortly thereafter, I developed a flu-like syndrome that lasted close to six weeks. I was short of breath, exhausted and generally felt awful. I saw my internest, he did a chest x-ray and sent me for pulmonary function testing. I recall asking if my hip could have anything to do with this, but he said it was unlikely.  They couldn’t really find anything to explain the symptoms.
Along with all this I started having swelling and cold intolerence in my fingers and pain in my feet when I walked.  This prompted a trip to a rheumatologist who I again asked if he thought the hip could be the culprit…again he said no.  Again, all the tests he ran came back normal.  But I know I am not CRAZY!
In time we are about 15months (spring of 2010) out from the operation at this point.  The hip is still seemingly functioning well.  I am not having any unusual symptoms that I feel are coming from the prosthetic joint.
Over the summer of 2010 I start noticing that the hip is popping and clunking at times.  I think this is strange but I don’t have any pain so I continue about my life.
In the fall of 2010 I start noticing pain in the resurface hip when I am walking my dog.  I pay relative attention to this, but don’t actually address it until the spring of 2011 when I am having almost constant pain in the hip and I am eating anti-inflammatory drugs like candy.  So I have my metal ion levels checked.  It is February of 2011.  My levels are elevated, but not super elevated.  The cobalt is 2.7 and the Chromium is 3.3.
In March of 2011 I make an appointment to see my surgeon to have him go over all this with me.  Unfortunately, the surgeons attitude at the time was that the x-ray was perfect, I had good range of motion and he doubted the “pain” was coming from my hip. He though my pain was coming from my back.   Also, he felt that the labs were not useful as they had not been done by the proper lab.  At my insistence he repeated the blood work and ordered an MRI of my hip and back.
The blood work came back with the cobalt at 2.8 and the chromium at 5.7 (this is about 3 weeks after the first blood test).  The MRI of my hip showed inflammation and metal debris in the tissue.  I never had the MRI of my back.  The surgeon called me and told me this was going to have to b watched, but likely the prosthesis would have to be replaced.
In August of 2011 (almost exactly 3 years to the day) I had a revision and conversion to a titanium on plastic total hip.
I have also since been diagnosed with hypothyroidsm (Hashimoto’s disease) which is an autoimmune disorder that I think was precipitated by the immune reaction to the metal on metal hip.
Hopefully this will be helpful for others when looking at what is going on with their bodies after a metal on metal hip implant.
I know there are many people out there with Birmingham resurfacing devices in similar situations.  It seems that Smith & Nephew is immune to trouble because of the PMA approval that they received for this particular device, but I feel if enough of us could get organized we might be able to impact them somehow.
Sincerely,
Laurel Mengarelli
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