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Knee & Hip Problems Message Board


Knee & Hip Problems Board Index


My wife, who is 72, had total hip replacement surgery last July 18. When her doctor came out of the surgery room, after 3-1/2 hours, he told me that my wife’s pelvis had fractured, that she lost two liters of blood and that her blood pressure had dropped to 70/50. I was astonished, to say the least. Her doctor said that her pelvis had broken when he pounded the prosthesis in with a hammer.

I asked him if it was a force fit. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if it was intended to be an interference fit, and again he said, “Yes.” I asked him how much of an interference. He said, “Zero to two millimeters.” He said that the hoop stress was what had broken her pelvis. I mentioned to him that “hoop stress” is an engineering term. (I am and engineer.)

He then gave me a card that had diagrams of a hip-replacement prosthesis, but he said that it was not the one that he had used; that he had used a different one, a new one. The upper, or socket part of the prosthesis shown on the card had a section of a sphere that was to be fitted into the pelvis, but the doctor said that the one on the card was not the prosthesis that he used.

When I got home, I went on the internet and found a hip-replacement prosthesis that did indeed require an interference fit of zero to two millimeters. The prosthesis that I found showed the ball and socket prosthesis with the socket, or upper part, having a circular cylinder part that protruded out to be inserted into a hole drilled into the pelvis, instead of a section of a sphere.

It said that the amount of interference required varies from zero to two millimeters and depends on the degree of osteoporosis; that a pelvis that has severe osteoporosis requires two millimeters of interference, and a pelvis that has little or no osteoporosis requires zero interference. Various degrees of osteoporosis between those extremes requires an interference somewhere between zero and two millimeters. An interference fit of, say, one millimeter, requires that the hole that is bored into the pelvis should be one millimeter smaller than the diameter of the cylinder on the upper, or socket, part of the prosthesis.

The doctor did NOT do a bone density test prior to the surgery, so he did not know the degree, if any, of any osteoporosis. My wife is very large and heavy. It is my understanding that heavy people have little if any osteoporosis. It appears to me that he just guessed about how much interference to plan for, and he guessed wrong.

I did not make a note of the manufacturer of the prosthesis with the cylindrical part, the one that requires an interference fit of zero to two millimeters, or of the web site on which I found it. A few weeks later, I again got on the internet to find the same prosthesis, but I could not find it anywhere. Since then I have never been able to find that prosthesis or its instructions.

I did get information that a certain prosthesis had recently been removed from the market but I did not make a note of which one. All of them that I have found since then have an upper prosthesis that has the shape of a partial sphere that must be fitted into a spherical cavity in the pelvis. And there is no mention of an interference fit of zero to two millimeters on any of these.

If the prosthesis that the doctor used on my wife has indeed been removed from the market and all information regarding it has also been removed from internet web sites, then something has been going on.

Today my wife had another appointment with her doctor. Before she left home, I asked her to ask him two questions: (1) What is the name of the manufacturer of the prosthesis? And (2) Why is information about the one that requires zero to two millimeters no longer to be found on the internet?

After her appointment today, she said that she asked him about the manufacturer, and then she remembered that he had given her a card, she thinks when she saw him for the first time after her surgery. She showed me the card, and it was the same card with the same upper, or socket part of the prosthesis, the one having the spherical end. I told my wife that it was the same one that her doctor had said was NOT the one that he had used in her surgery. She said that he had told her that it IS the one that he used. She said that he said that there had been another one that had had comments made and that it had been recalled. It appears that he has changed his story.

My wife is adamantly opposed to even talking to an attorney about this. What should I do? It has been many months since her surgery, and she still has trouble walking, even with a cane. Physical therapy seems not to help.





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