Whoopsie daisy–– this one's on the house!

Exactly 10 months after my second hip replacement surgery, the surgeon who performed both operations called me. Believe it or not, he did not call to discuss sports, weather or crock pot recipes.

No, yesterday the good doc called to tell me that the artificial hip joints he’d surgically implanted on both sides of my body were being recalled. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., the orthopaedics unit of Johnson & Johnson, announced the recall on August 26. The company introduced The ASR XL Acetabular System in 2004, and surgeons worldwide have been putting them into people. In the U.S., it’s estimated 97,000 of the suckers are on the job inside humans.

The problem is that the replacement parts can become loose, may cause bone fractures or produce microscopic metal shavings that inflame muscle tissues and do joints no damn good at all. Studies have found that five years following device implantation, 12-13% needed to be replaced. They call this ‘revision surgery’ but I suspect it hurts as much as ‘real’ surgery. I have a total of 20-some inches of scar tissue on my backside to remind me of that joy ride through our medical care system.

So I made an appointment with my surgeon for first thing this morning. He had my hips X-rayed and everything looks hunky dory. If I have troubles, I’m supposed to call him for follow up tests: more X-rays, blood work and even MRIs to determine if I have metal floating around in me (do they surgically implant magnets for clean-up?).

So, we simply monitor my hips and should I need some new ones, the good people of DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. will pick up the tab! What a swell bunch they are.

Maybe they’ll even provide my surgeon with some good equipment this time.

I hope there’s no beard in my future…