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Zimmer Hip Caused a Decade of Pain

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Merrillville, INMary endured chronic pain for 10 years after receiving a Zimmer Hip implant. She had a Zimmer hip in 1989 and didn't get revision surgery until a decade later. And a decade later, she no longer needed her walker and cane that might as well have been packaged along with the Zimmer medical device. "My husband has my Zimmer hip now—he wants to make a gear shift out of it for his hot rod," says Mary, who adds that it might be good for something!

"I had the Zimmer hip implant when I was 39 and had two small kids to take care of," says Mary. "Fortunately I had a lot of friends and family to help—I couldn't work and had to go on disability; but I know a lot of people are having complications with Zimmer devices and they don't have anyone to fall back on..."

Mary was born with hip dysplasia and had to wear a leg brace when she was younger; she thought the Zimmer hip replacement would ease her pain; instead it made her problems worse.

Back in 1989, few people knew about Zimmer medical devices failing (except perhaps Zimmer), so Mary assumed it was the fault of her orthopedic surgeon. "When I decided to go ahead and get the surgery, everyone said I should have done more research because I had problems from day one," Mary explains. "I went to rehab for a year and in hindsight, I realize that people don't go to rehab for a year—maybe a few months.

"I told the doctor that my hip wasn't getting any better, but he said that I was just stuck with the Zimmer hip and should continue therapy. Then I started talking to other people with hip surgeries and they knew it wasn't right. I had just about zero mobility. And I'm thinking about the statute of limitations—I knew that something wasn't right.

"I never questioned my doctor regarding the device. I just thought it was a piece of steel—what could go wrong? I just thought that it was something they did wrong in surgery. I thought about filing a malpractice claim but I figured my time had run out."

After shopping around for another orthopedic surgeon, Mary finally had revision surgery and the pain in her hip and legs subsided within weeks. "Before getting my second hip replacement, the area around my hip joint ached all the time and I had a lot of knee problems. When the surgeon found out how loose it was, he couldn't believe how I was still walking because it was so loose. He told me that I would eventually need to have the other side done because of all the wear and tear in the past ten years from this Zimmer device. As it turned out, it wasn't the first surgeon's fault after all. This new surgeon also said a lot of surgery needed to be done to remove so much scar tissue surrounding the hip replacement."

Then Mary saw a commercial on TV about Zimmer recalls and that prompted her to get her medical records; now she is waiting to hear from an attorney regarding whether or not she can file a claim, taking into consideration the statute of limitations.

"For all those years I suffered with the Zimmer hip, I could never wear high heels," she says. "I vowed to wear high heels down the aisle when I got married—in 2004. And I did, with another kind of hip."

Zimmer has had a litany of problems with its Zimmer hips, including Zimmer hip recalls.

In July 2008, Zimmer announced that it was temporarily suspending sales of the Zimmer Durom Cup in the US, just two years after it was FDA-approved.

Mary knows she had a Zimmer hip—her surgeon confirmed it—but she isn't certain of the type. Given the year she had the first surgery, the Zimmer hip replacement could have been the Zimmer Hip Acetabular cup, which was recalled by its French manufacturer St. Gobain Desmarquest on August 14, 2001. According to adverse event reports, it was fracturing at a higher rate than expected in some patients 13 to 27 months after being implanted. The component is the ball portion of the hip prosthesis that connects the femoral stem to the pelvis. St. Gobain Desmarquest distributed zirconia and alumina ceramic femoral heads worldwide to most of the orthopedic industry.

Further information on the Zimmer recall is available on the FDA Web site.

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READER COMMENTS

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I also had my hip replaced in2001when I was 34. It popped out of the socket from day one. I called my doctor he said they could go back in and tighten up a muscle to try and hold it in place. Went to several specialist they said everything from being misaligned to the parts just were not fitting together properly. I have been in constant pain since the operation. Have severe muscle spasms in leg will pop out when walking. Other lawyers have told me I have waited to long. I have just now seen commercials with recall notices. I would love to talk to someone about my situation. I am veteran of the USMC with honorable discharge currently working for the State of Texas. Please can someone help me.

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