If you have an implanted hip, this article concerns learning more about it, to help you to become a bona fide Hipster.

Hips are replaced today more than ever before; this trend will continue. A reason for this is that your original hip is simply a bony, mechanical joint. As such, tissue surrounding hips can, and often does, become arthritic. Also, how you have used your hip over the years is a functional factor; rough and tumble sports or kayaking as an example. If your hip was replaced, a multi-piece mechanical device, composed of metals and plastics/ceramics, was implanted. These devices, too, can and do wear out, lasting an average of 15 to 20 years. If the manufacturer issues a safety alert for your hip device, would you know who made it?

In 2011, I had an artificial hip implanted in my body; millions of people have had this successful operation. In 2018, I was experiencing pain and discomfort in my hip, which slowly became severe. Components of this device started to break down, to fret, due to their rubbing together. This created a metallic dust of minute, toxic chips of chromium and cobalt, which floated around in the vicinity of my hip. This could be a dangerous situation for anyone, leading the tissue surrounding the hip to become infected. Infection could cause not only the loosening of the device, but metallosis, along with increasingly severe pain and other serious health issues.

During this time, I started to research everything that I could find concerning artificial hips. Hip prosthesis are made by five to six different manufacturers, and they come in various sizes; a hip implant is not a “one size fits all” proposition. As it turned out, as I did my research, I stumbled upon the manufacturer’s “safety alert” for my hip, on the Internet. After reviewing this safety alert notice, I had proof positive that my implanted hip was faulty and revision surgery would be needed. Why was I so sure that my hip was bad? Because I did the something years ago that most people with a hip implant have not done – and it is not too late for you to do it now. In fact, I urge you to do it tomorrow – yes, tomorrow, without fail. Call your hospital and ask for a copy of the medical records associated with your hip operation.

If you have had a hip implanted, your surgeon dictated his operation progress electronically, as he worked, or he created an operation report after the operation. In any event, your operation report is in your medical record file, located at your surgeon’s office or at the hospital where the operation was performed. As part of your record, the surgeon either stuck the five to six prosthesis labels on a page in his report; or he completed an Implant/Explant log. There certainly is a record of that precise implanted device somewhere in your medical file.

In most hip operations, patients do not ask their surgeon “Who made the hip you’re using?” The very experience of having to undergo a hip operation overrides any concerns about “who made my hip” – and, honestly, who really cares who made it? Consequently, as the years pass, as you age and your health maybe slips a little and you start to feel some hip pain, maybe your hip implant has started to wear out. But, maybe it was deemed to be defective, too. How would you know if it was being recalled, not knowing the name of the manufacturer ? Very simply, you would not know. Yes, of course, you could leave all this business up to your doctor; ignore everything and not be proactive in helping to manage your own health – perhaps not a smart move in this day and age, though.

The piece of paper that you are going to request tomorrow will tell you everything about your implanted device; manufacturer, serial numbers and all other numbers identifying the device. Now you know who made your implanted hip and you can monitor any safety alert/recall issued by a manufacturer of artificial hips and immediately know if it concerns your hip. Don’t be meek about this business. It is your medical record, and you need to get a copy of it. Please do it tomorrow and thereby become a Hipster.

I also researched why the device manufacturer, the hospital and the surgeon who implanted this device did not notify me, the patient, of the manufacturer safety alert notice, which advised recall. I found out the answers to this question, but it’s a story for another time.

John P. Smith of Sweden is a patient, with no medical or legal experience; just that of a Hipster, who had hip revision surgery in 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]

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