"My grandpa had a Zimmer distal hip implant in October 1996, according to his medical report in front of me," says Carrie. "I know that he did his therapy diligently, but about eight or nine months after the surgery he started to complain of pain." Her grandfather went back to his surgeon and like many other hip implant patients, he was told there was nothing wrong. But there was something terribly wrong—his hip was loose. Even though Carrie's grandfather finally convinced his surgeon to order X-rays, it wasn't detected for almost another two years.
By this time, he needed a walker. Carrie says that he was unable to walk even a short distance without it. "He finally had a CAT Scan in 1999 and it revealed that the Zimmer femur component was loose," Carrie explains. "He had revision surgery and apparently they didn't even need tools to take it out."
Carrie reads from the operation report: "We removed the femur stem—It was grossly loose and it pulled out with our own fingers." He underwent a total left hip revision and Carrie has the medical report that states he had a Zimmer hip removed.
"He couldn't even move near the end of his life, even with this revision surgery," says Carrie. "He ended up getting Alzheimer's disease and I can't help but think it was due to all this metal floating around in his body. He was a pastor all his life until the church finally made him retire at the age of 78…"
Carrie is aware that Alzheimer's hasn't been linked to metallosis but no one in her family has ever had the disease and she can't help but wonder. Metallosis, however, might have developed in her grandfather.
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"We attributed his mental health to the pain, but he progressively got worse," says Carrie. "The time from his first hip implant until the revision surgery took three years—he was in terrible pain all that time. He was active and able to walk around before surgery—this Zimmer hip really did him in and we believe it caused his life to deteriorate.
"He passed away two years ago, at the age of 92. I wish it was easier to diagnose these defective devices and I wish surgeons would listen to their patients when they are in pain. Does it have to get to the point where you can't walk anymore, do you have to suffer horrific pain for doctors to determine whether or not your Zimmer hip is killing you?"