The Economy

Dopamine Squirts

Little more than a week ago, I was boned like a Christmas turkey on an orthopedic operating table. This was due to yet another diminishing return of technology. I’d been living with an “innovative” metal-on-metal hip implant that was being pushed for younger hip replacement patients back around 2003 as “longer-lasting” than the old metal-on-plastic joints. It turned out the devices were improperly tested. Huge numbers of them failed. The simple abrasion of the ball-joint assembly parts released cobalt and chromium ions into the surrounding tissues, destroying bone and muscle and inducing metalosis – systemic metal poisoning. I was one of the luckier ones. My tissues were not savaged, but I suffered a bewildering range of systemic poisoning symptoms for more than a couple of years. Such cases run to tens of thousands now, growing each year as the devices age and the failure rate surges. It is surely the biggest fiasco ever in modern orthopedics and the lawsuits against the makers of these “innovative” devices now stretch from Johns Hopkins to Alpha Centuri. But again, I digress slightly….


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