The number of people living in the United States needing hip replacement surgery (also known as hip arthroplasty) has sky rocketed in recent years, jumping from 138,700 in 2000 to 310,800 in 2010 according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. While the surgery is meant to relieve ongoing pain in the hip and difficulty walking, when performed negligently or “below the standard of care” the procedure can leave you or a loved one in worse shape than before the surgery.
What If I Have A Leg Length Discrepancy Following a Hip Replacement Surgery?
One common type of malpractice related to hip replacement surgery involves having a leg length discrepancy after the procedure is done. Leg length discrepancy following hip replacement surgery is not uncommon. However when the leg length discrepancy is significant enough – typically one inch or greater – it could be due to physician malpractice. In this scenario there may be a claim against the surgeon for causing the leg length discrepancy for negligently performing the surgery. However even if there is no negligence on the part of the surgeon for causing the leg length discrepancy, there could be a malpractice claim if that surgeon does not recognize and diagnose that discrepancy. Doctors can diagnose a leg length discrepancy by analyzing how you walk (your gait), measuring your legs, or performing imaging studies on your leg such as X-Rays.
Doctors can treat your leg length discrepancy through a shoe lift. Sometimes you may need more extensive treatment, such as a hip revision surgery, to fix the discrepancy. If the leg length discrepancy is not corrected, it could cause issues walking as well as hip and knee pain. The uneven, unbalanced gait due to a leg length discrepancy may also put extra pressure on the nerves in your lumbar spine, and may lead to low back and leg pain due to a pinching of those nerves.
Can a Hip Replacement be the Wrong Size?
Besides leg length discrepancies the surgeon may use the wrong size hip replacement. A wrong sized hip replacement can also lead to unequal leg lengths leading to the above issues if not corrected timely. However it could also leave you with a hip that has poor rotational control which can lead to a rotational deformity of your leg (for example resulting in your foot facing at a 60 degree angle). This can also lead to gait issues that put added stress on your back. Whether the wrong sized hip replacement was used, or whether your issues were just an unfortunate complication of the surgery, will require an extensive review of your case. This includes reviewing the medical records, X-Rays and other imaging studies, and the size of the components used in any subsequent revision surgeries to fix your issues following your initial hip replacement surgery. Attorneys experienced in handling medical malpractice claims will be able to consult with orthopedic surgeons experienced in performing hip replacement surgeries to determine whether there was negligence in your case.
A botched hip replacement surgery can not only have an effect on the joys of your daily life, but a long-term effect on your ability to work and earn income. If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to negligence from a surgery, you should consult an attorney as soon as practicable given the two year limitations period to bring these claims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling medical malpractice claims related to hip replacement surgeries. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm due to negligent care during a hip replacement surgery, the attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-568-6800.