Bionic Reporter

Heavy metal

December 11th, 2013

This is quite possibly the coolest most disgusting thing I think I have ever seen!


Journalistic disclosure: Photo has been edited to blur personal information.

That is the steel femur and related hardware that was implanted into my right leg back in 1985. The femur itself, along the bottom edge of the bag, is maybe the only thing that is that old. Some of the other parts, such as the longer tibial stem in the middle, are as new as last year. The screws, rods, acetabular cups and whatnot have been replaced in different surgeries over the past three decades. Try to look past the items that have cement attached and what we can only assume are pieces of bone.†

Aside from the obvious, the most shocking thing about this is how much it weighs. It's hard to believe I carried that around with me this whole time. You can see the ball from the ball and socket joint at the right and the knee hinge at left. That circular piece on the right was the socket that was drilled into my pelvis with one of the long screws floating around in the bag.

I'm told the newer femur, instead of being one solid piece of titanium, is made of four composite segments joined as one longer femoral rod.‡ That seems like it would make things easier when undergoing follow-up procedures, such as a revision of the replaced hip.

Back in 1985, doctors said this technology would have cost around $100,000. Not sure on the price of the newer model, but it also is titanium and must weigh about the same, because I don't feel any lighter.

Not sure what I'll do with this, but getting it back to Hawaii ought to be fun! Any medical engineers out there who might want to take a shot at reassembling this to make a doctor's office-type model of a femur-knee complex is welcome to contact me.

My immediate thought is to take it to a 3-D printing company, have it scanned and then printed at a fraction of its scale to make souvenir items such as keychains, pendants, earrings, paper weights and ... Christmas tree ornaments!!!


† - If I ever remove it from the hermetically-sealed bag, it's supposed to be washed in bleach.

‡ - Sort of like a Voltron Femur!

3 Responses to “Heavy metal”

  1. Sandi:

    I love that you saved it! I will buy a key chain. I think a line of trinkets is in order, proceeds to go to help kids with cancer in Cleveland -- or Detroit 😉

  2. marilynlee:

    In about 50 years, you will have a valuable antique! Do think docs at the med school might like to see it,

  3. ohiaforest3400:

    Good thing we are more than the sum of our parts! I might suggest assembling a mobile for the lanai or back yard. Or a wind chime; I bet that femur has good tone!

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