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Metal gets in Jacksonville man's blood after hip replacement

6:01 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Steven Starrett, 34, had his first hip replacement surgery in 2007, his second in 2008, and is scheduled for yet another surgery this year.

"I've been healthy my whole life until they put metal in my body," he said.

Starrett has what he calls a metal-on-metal hip implant. He said it is wearing out in his body.

"There are very high levels of Cobalt, Chromium, and mercury and lead in my blood," said Starrett.

He is worried about what is the long term effect of high levels of the metals in his system.

"The last thing the doctor told me was 'we're going to put this new metal-on-metal implant and you should get ten to 15 years out of it; you're a young man,'" said Starrett.

There have been many recalls for hip implant devices, but apparently the device Starrett is wearing is not on the list, which makes him wonder why not?

"Why is this one not recalled but all the other metal-on-metal ones are?" he asked. 

A January 2012 Mayo Clinic study looked into the problems with metal-on-metal hip implants. The study concluded an elevation of chromium and cobalt correlates with the implant deterioration.

"I've been in more pain since they did this, since it started failing on me," said Starrett.

He said his next surgery is to replace his current device with a metal-on-plastic implant.

"It is suppose to keep it from dislocating," he said, "it is suppose to keep it from the metal coming off in my blood."

Dr. Joshua Jacobs is president of Chicago-based American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Dr. Jacobs could not speak directly to Starrett's case, but he said implants are the greatest achievement in medicine in the last century.

He said there are different types and changes were made over the years to be more accommodating to a younger generation.

"Some have done well, others have not and they were recalled," he said, "Metal-on-metal have not done very well." 

Jacobs said a patient's experience will be determined by the type of implant used and that person's lifestyle activity.

"In over 90 percent of the cases, implants work successfully for decades," said Jacobs.

In the United States, there are 400,000 hip implants and 600,000 knee replacements done a year. 

First Coast News

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