Some metal hip devices causing problems

Jonathan Malina
Jonathan Malina
Dr. Linda Rasmussen
Dr. Linda Rasmussen

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jonathan Malina's rehab routine consists of swimming laps in his grandfather's backyard pool. The exercise strengthens the muscles around his hips.

"In the water you're weightless. So there's not so much pressure on your leg when you're exercising," he said.

Four years ago the house painter needed a total hip replacement. Metal on metal implants were used.

"They said as long as I take it easy, be careful what I'm doing, it could last me a lifetime," he said.

But two months after his metal hip replacement, Malina said he was in worse shape than before the surgery.

'The pain was intense. Through the back of my leg, in the groin, straight down to my knee. It was basically the whole side right," he said.

Even pain medication didn't help.  Malina's story is becoming more common.

Orthopedic surgeons say metal on metal hips are failing patients at a disturbing rate. All hip implants shed particles because of wear and tear, but metal shavings are smaller.

"Those particles can get into the bloodstream. They can get in your liver. They can get into your brain. They can get into other organs. And they can cause almost a reaction," said Dr. Linda Rasmussen, an orthopedic surgeon at Castle Medical Center.

She said metal implants that fail must be replaced with devices made of plastic or ceramic. Some patients who have had metal hips won't have a problem, but others will.

"For those that are having pain, that are having problems, you need to see your doctor and make sure that there's nothing going on," Rasmussen said.

Malina had the metal implants removed and replaced with another material.

"The prosthetic itself feels a lot better," he said. "There is still some pain, but I think it's more from the healing more than anything. It doesn't really feel the same as it did when I had the metal in there."

The second surgery was done in August. He still walks with a limp. That's a lot better than barely being able to walk at all.

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