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"Boomeritis" Buying into Hip and Knee Implants—but at What Cost?

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New York, NYHip and knee replacements are one of the biggest moneymakers for medical device manufacturers, but at what price to hip and knee implant recipients? Judging from the recent metal-on-metal knee and hip recalls and mass tort litigation against device manufacturers including Stryker, Smith & Nephew, Howmedica and more, countless patients are suffering and facing revision surgery.

Carol says her hip replacement has been "a total disaster." She has been in constant pain since surgery, which can't be controlled with the strongest of pain meds. Dave (not his real name) had two Stryker knee replacements on each leg when he turned 50. Five years later, he is "suffering severe pain, swelling and stiffness in both knees to the point of almost not being able to stand for any long period of time." He also says the nerves seem to be affected since pain is shooting up from the knee into the hip area.

John had a metal-on-metal knee replacement in 2007 and says his knee is worse now than before surgery. "It constantly hurts, inflames and buckles without warning. I have to walk up or down stairs sideways because my knee can't take any pressure—it will collapse from my body weight and I'm not a big guy.

"I complained to my surgeon six months after the replacement and he told me the pain would go away, but I'm still waiting. After I had the replacement I spent 30 days in the rehab center and I'm not looking forward to going through that again."

Not only do Carol, Dave and John have metal-on-metal (MOM) implants in common. They are all relatively young to have undergone hip or knee replacement surgery, and are most likely looking at revision surgery.

The New York Times (March 2010) reported that "metal on metal" implants have been used in about one-third of the approximately 250,000 hip replacements performed annually in the US, mainly because it was thought that ball-and-socket joints made from metals like cobalt and chromium would be more durable and last longer.

Not so, according to medical device expert Lana Keeton. She says MOM implants were designed to last longer for younger and more active people, but instead, they have a shorter life span. And they are creating another, very serious problem: in some cases, high volumes of metallic debris from MOM knee and hip implants have been absorbed into a patient's body.

If you are under the age of, say, 55, and considering a knee or hip implant—especially the latter—just about any orthopedic surgeon will tell you to wait a few years. These devices at the best of times have a "shelf life" of about 10–15 years, so what's the sense of having to undergo two surgeries?

This begs the question: why were MOM implants designed for a younger patient in the first place? According to Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, a suburban Philadelphia surgeon, "Boomeritis" or "fix-me-itis" is on the upswing, and medical device companies are hedging their bets that younger and more active patients—the majority of baby boomers—won't want to wait. But the MOM implants are sometimes failing within two or three years of implantation, which spells revision surgery.

Medical device companies are making their shareholders happy by selling MOM implants. New research shows that knee replacement surgeries have doubled over the last decade and more than tripled in the 45-to-64 age group and hips are following suit. But these companies are also facing huge lawsuits.

"Johnson and Johnson recently announced that they put aside $1 billion for litigation and settlement costs," says attorney Kevin Hart. "This problem is like a tornado—the rumbling started last year with problems and failures, but it's getting much worse. Most people we have met have been to their doctor and need another knee or hip replacement surgery but the big question is when…"

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READER COMMENTS

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This is what I have written into this site now for the 3rd time regarding my experience. My surgeon was the paid consultant who sold me on Smith and Nephew #1 knee system, even pulled out a component to let me hold in my hand to look and feel. Both of my knees were needing replaced but my surgeon prior to Dr. Michael Williams who was this paid consultant who specialized in replacements made the plans to do the WORST knee 1st and the other 6 months later.

On August 12, 2003 came my surgery for the other leg 6 months later, this was even on my BEST knee. Dr. Williams even requested to my HealthChoice Insurance Company for the exact procedure with the same #1 knee system of Smith and Nephew. So there was NO misunderstanding between me and my Surgeon about whether he could put this CEMENTLESS, UN-APPROVED FDA Knee into my best leg. I was 46 years old and was a single H.S. Biology Teacher and Head Basketball Coach who worked long, active hours on my feet.

I wake up to this hospital stay never seeing the Doctor and many years later and after my attorneys, Patrick and Jason Ryan along with Larry and Darren Tawwater in OKC, Oklahoma end collaborating against me, their client and covering what this surgeon did to trap me to have no option in order to get my failed leg fixed and help financially for the surgery to call the Smith and Nephew Company Advocate before he would REPAIR my ROTTED LEG.

Keeping this cut off short, I had to have my leg revised 2 times, so I had 3 replacements in 15 months with the original leg 6 months earlier. I even was unable to get my attorneys to help me get my disability from proper records from this surgeon. They did not turn in the double billing or my losses of how Surgeon was paid by Company for these 4 surgeries and he sent the same amounts to my insurance but my attorneys let me LOSE by them not claiming those losses for me on top of letting me take the fall for the bankruptcy for medical I filed that were for even surgeries that were of all this fraud. I find that after I was forced to sign and be lied by attorneys that I could not win my case for this RECALL which I have truth now is a lie, but I was never told my case was never about my leg. My attorneys NEVER told I was forced by this Surgeon if I wanted my Rotted Leg fixed I had to call the Companies Advocacy Hotline that he had for me or I would be out of luck.

Know I had spent over 9 months from Aug. To this appointment of June, 2004 to finally get this surgeon to admit my knee had failed. I had only finally been told this in June cause I called for records and serial # of product so I could go to another surgeon because I was tired of being ridiculed and harassed about the pain I was going through.

I now have been unable to get another attorney firm to take my case with all my original documents and evidence to show the appalling facts of fraud and extortion by the Ryans, Tawwaters, Representing me with so many crimes, even paying themselves as creditors claiming fines from me. They get ahead and all I have to do is show my papers to show all the work they manipulated with the company, the surgeon, all against me shorting the money I had sat and figure at the hiring the Ryans I needed for one reason I was 4 years short of being vetted in my retirement then no one knows what it is like to have all the illnesses now and be on Medicare, have not only a MUTILATED LEG but now destroyed back, neck, shoulder. The entire tibial nerve is destroyed, My Skin is rotting and inflamed all the time and I have the chills off and on every 2 or 3 weeks.

My attorneys, or this surgeon will not even call me or send me accurate records so I can seek medical care. Doctors turn me away and one doctor even told me I better stop going and telling about this leg and just go to these appointments!

Well, how do you do this when I am 53 years old and I was always healthy. I never had High Blood Pressure until I was spending those 9 months not knowing what Surgeon put into my body while I was under anesthesia. Oh, my skin, I never had bad skin, I never wore real make-up cause my complexion was so good. Now I have severe Rosacea caused by stress and unknown reasons. I think I was poisoned all that time with my bone dying over and over and the stress to my systems and still from how I try to get just my records and the inhumane treatment by this corruption.

My attorneys finally are seen in this work claiming for FRE and Rule 408. Then they are asking for the companies attorney to accept 2 more cases to be added into this agreement settlement and how they are being paid more for this other settlements all to be hid and be sure to not allow it to be found in discovery or in the settlement ....

I want my money these attorneys took from me and never even fought for me just so I can attempt to leave Oklahoma to seek Medical Specialized Treatment or Tests.

Please Help Me so I can Help You Help So Many Others.

Again I have so much more and the detail will blow your mind and the attorneys here who have listened to their peers rather than following their Oath are going to see how these firms have only stolen from this entire State and even Nation.

Again Please, I would not continue this as I do if it was all about Cheryl Walker, I have said over and over. This is a Modern Day American Holocaust. I can help You Help so Many.

Cheryl Walker

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