Katie Ellis - 20 years with a Metal-on-Metal Hip Resurfacing
Katie Ellis from Birmingham is one of Mr McMinn’s very first conservative hip patients. After being diagnosed with Congenital Dislocation of the Hip (CDH), aged four, she underwent several surgeries culminating in her Metal-on-Metal (MoM) hip resurfacing in 1991. 21 years later, she’s living a happy and moderately active life, describing her resurfacing as a ‘Godsend’.
Katie was only 21 at the time of surgery and explains: “Prior to having my hip resurfaced I was not able to walk very far at all. I had to use a walking stick and it was painful pretty much all the time. My level of activity was very low and at 21 you want to be out and about, so it was very restrictive in that respect.”
Katie’s problems arose due to complications with her ‘clicky’ hip. Children with CDH are usually treated much earlier and Katie recalls: “Because it wasn’t picked up until I was four it was already a very deformed hip. I had a few operations with Mr Sneath at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital [ROH] in Birmingham. Eventually I had the hip resurfacing because there was nothing more they could do.”
At the time Mr McMinn made it very clear that hip resurfacing was an experimental, new procedure. In spite of that she says: “I was more than happy to go ahead with it. It was a no brainer really.” For Katie the idea of a conservative arthroplasty was a compelling one. It would provide a fuller, more natural range of movement and better stability compared to alternative treatments.
One option was a total hip replacement (THR), something which never really appealed. “At 21 it wasn’t really the sort of thing I wanted to be doing,” explains Katie. “The options were very limited - you could only have three THR revisions in your lifetime at that point. And I might not have had the same level of activity.”
Katie’s surgery went ahead shortly before her 22nd Birthday and, amazingly, she got her rehabilitation and recovery out of the way just weeks before getting married. “It wasn’t quite as straight forward as a standard resurfacing because there was a lot of bone grafting done. I had to let that heal over the next couple of months. But I was able to walk down the aisle without limping! After that my level of activity went up to normal.” Since her surgery Katie’s back to dancing, dog walking and family life with her husband and two sons.
“I couldn’t have done most of what I’ve done over the past 20 years if I’d not had my hip resurfaced. I don’t know what I’d have done about having children - certainly not when they’re young and you’re running around after them and physically carrying them. I don’t think I could have done any of that. It would have made life a lot harder. And I couldn’t be wearing Jimmy Choos if I hadn’t had my hip done!”
But for Katie it wasn’t important to get out and sample extreme sports after surgery - like so many hip resurfacing patients do.
Her hip resurfacing provided a simpler pleasure: an arthritis-free life without the need for a walking stick. “I wouldn’t go jumping out of an aeroplane or go bungee jumping! I’ve been given something that’s made my hip pain-free - why would I want to risk it?”
Conversely, Katie is at a loss to explain the recent Lancet report which claims Metal-on-Metal hip resurfacing is an unsuitable procedure for women. “It made me very angry,” she says. “I was ranting at the TV when I saw the report. It seems to be such a narrow-minded view when there are so many of us who have had successful resurfacings, giving us a life that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“Every few years there’s a big thing about Metal-on-Metal, for example the story about whether it affects unborn children and I just get really quite cross. Neither of my sons have had any health problems. The first one was born two years after the resurfacing operation; the second four or five years later. They were big babies and carrying them was no problem. They’re now 19 and 14 and both very healthy and very clever - the eldest one’s just started University and the youngest is doing his GCSEs.”
Far from the media-fuelled circus surrounding MoM, Katie continues to lead a healthy life with a fully functioning hip resurfacing. “The fact that it’s lasted 21 years is better than I would have imagined - it’s certainly better than I would have got with a standard hip replacement. I go for regular checkups at the ROH every two years. The x-rays show there’s never been any movement or any problems with the joint.”
Her resurfacing has passed the test of time and Katie has nothing but praise for both her hip and her surgeon: “I’m very satisfied with my outcome. I think my mother, my father and I would all say that Mr McMinn is our hero!”
In Spring 2013 Katie featured in our Hip & Knee News newsletter, you can download the newsletter here.