Disintigration of "Metal Cage" after Hip Replacement

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My mother-in-law had hip replacement surgery about 15 years ago. She went to Mass. General and saw a specialist reknowned in this field and, at the time, it seemed like her surgery was a success. In the past year she has moved to Arizona and had begun having pain in her hip. Doctors there x-rayed her hip and told her that there was a "metal cage" that had been inserted in surgery that has now disintigrated, causing metal to "float" around in her body. At first they performed surgery with the intention of removing the metal but have since decided that this will not be possible. She now has developed infections and has been back in the hospital several times. While her surgeon has not been very disclosive, she developed a staph infection and now has a specialist for her infections. He has since told her that he has not seen any device like this (the metal cage) and that she will have to be on antibiotics for the rest of her life because the metal that is floating around is "festering" and she will always be in danger of having infections.

It seems to me that it is very problematic to have pieces of metal floating around inside and it also seems that being on antibiotics for life is also problematic. Has anyone heard of this type of problem before? What course of action should she be pursuing?

Barbara Leys, Chicago, Illinois

-- Barbara J. Leys (barbleys@comcast.net), April 15, 2004

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