New Models of Implants Not Better, Study Finds

On December 22, 2011, the New York Times published an article concerning a recent study indicating that newer models of hip and knee replacements did not function any better than older and less expensive hip and knee devices. The study used data from Australia’s orthopedic registry, and analyzed hip and knee implants introduced between 2003 and 2007. Researchers found that in a five-year period, not a single knee or hip replacement device was any more durable than older models. Furthermore, they found that 30 percent of newer hip and knee devices performed worse than older models.

Newer models not only present disappointing performance results, but also incur higher costs for patients and health care programs. These implant devices cost more than older models, and are often introduced into the market without proper safety testing. Furthermore, many newer devices fail and need to be replaced, particularly metal-on-metal hips. These types of replacements may cost patients and insurance companies billions of dollars in the future.

Experts argue for more oversight of new implant devices in the United States, citing data indicating that more than 700,000 Americans undergo knee or hip replacement in this country every year. In response to this critique, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) is assessing whether a database and registry could help oversee device performance in the United States. A registry would allow medical professions to follow the progression of a patient’s implant, and would help pinpoint those devices that fail at premature rates.

However, other experts argue that a registry of orthopedic devices is not enough to help curtail the problems presented by newer implant models. These experts argue that hip and knee implants need to be scrutinized before or after going on the market to help identify device problems earlier. Following this idea, the United States Senate recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would require manufacturers of orthopedic implants to track the performance of these devices after these have been placed on the market.

See the full New York Times article at:

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