Mike is frustrated, to say the least, with his first orthopedic surgeon (he underwent revision surgery with another surgeon). “I really think some surgeons pick a company - in his case Zimmer - and blindly stay with them without researching the device,” Mike says. “I know that many doctors are swayed by sales reps.
“After I had the surgery I was in a lot of pain and never saw a knee swell so much. I wasn’t told this would happen. Then I started hearing popping and clicking sounds...I saw the surgeon two weeks after my knee replacement (you typically have a follow-up after six weeks) and he just said it was ‘standard procedure,’ and not to worry about it."
But is it normal for your knee to swell to the size of a basketball, always scorching hot and hearing popping and clicking sounds? Mike voiced his same concerns two months later. This time his surgeon took x-rays and again said everything was OK. He told Mike it would take anywhere from six months to a year before his knee would feel ‘normal.’ Mike had his NexGen knee surgery in November 2012, and the last time he saw this surgeon was April 2013.
“In October 2013, I had my annual physical and my GP said I should see another surgeon. Lo and behold this new surgeon said my knee wasn’t right,” says Mike. “He took x-rays and compared them to those taken last year. These new x-rays showed the top part of the replacement had separated from the bone and there was a profound difference from the earlier x-rays.
“From the first day after surgery this knee had never gotten better. I met people much older than me who had replacements and they were running, playing tennis, golfing, living a great life. Was it just the luck of the draw? I think I got a double whammy: an incompetent surgeon and a defective knee.”
Mike’s new surgeon told him his knee needed to be drained and that would decrease the swelling. He explained to Mike that the fluid is like a cyst in a soft sack but over time it gets hard and could get infected. This was not how his knee should look a year after surgery. And it was still hot. The surgeon also ordered a bone scan to rule out infection.
“The bone scan showed my knee lit up like a Christmas tree,” Mike says. “I had a serious infection and now the bottom part of the NexGen had pulled away. My surgeon at first thought I needed just a partial revision but now I needed a total revision using a DePuy system. It would take twice as long, with a recovery twice as long, a greater risk of infection, possible blood clot and possible death. He told me that every time you go in and operate that portion of the body it weakens. As well, a normal knee replacement has four parts but I now have 12 parts.
My knee was getting worse so they got me in sooner than later: I had the revision surgery December 17. The swelling is finally going down. I am able to walk with a cane, I can finally go up and down stairs and my knee feels warm, not hot. I haven’t taken pain killers in 10 days. And they will release me from physical therapy next week. This second knee surgery was the polar opposite of my first.
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My lawyer also got my bone tissue, regular tissue and the knee implant itself; they had it picked up after it was sterilized at the hospital. They have an expert orthopedic surgeon who is going to review my implant. Meanwhile I am on the mend and I am hopeful this new device will work. I believe the NexGen was a good idea gone wrong and my lawyer thinks I have a pretty solid claim against Zimmer. He also told me that Zimmer is fighting this tooth and nail.
They have been doing depositions and discovery for the past few years and a number bellwether trials. The first MDL cases are scheduled for trial in June 2014. But as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.”