In July the world’s largest manufacturer of hip replacement products, Zimmer, announced that they were suspending sales of the Durom Cup artificial hip replacement after concerns were raised about possible design flaws. Prominent Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Dorr, first raised questions about the device last year when he began to see problems in patients that he implanted with the Durom Cup. Patients that had planned on living pain free lives following their hip replacement surgery began returning to him in agony months later, many in need of additional surgery or another replacement.
If these patients would have been living in Australia, Great Britain, Norway, or Sweden they may have been spared the pain and suffering that they have endured as a result of being implanted with the Durom Cup. This is because in the United States, unlike the above mentioned countries, a national database and tracking system for artificial joints does not exist. A tracking system for these types of devices could drastically increase feedback and response to problems associated with artificial joints.
The risk in the United States that a patient will need a replacement procedure because of a flawed product or technique can be double the risk of countries with databases, according to Dr. Henrik Malchau of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Experts say that the United States wastes billions of dollars annually on medical treatments which may not work. But the financial and human consequences are also large when evidence exists but is not collected.
Currently the FDA is in charge of monitoring problems with devices like the Durom Cup hip replacement, but the agency is often overwhelmed and simply does not have the resources to keep up with all of the products and devices that they monitor.
There have been several efforts over the past decade to create such a database and tracking system but all have failed for one reason or another, but hopefully with a new awareness and ever expanding market a solution can be found that will offer a better way to ensure that less innocent people are living in agony due to problems with artificial joints.