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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

He needed surgery again: A settlement for a defective artificial hip gets justice for one, but no registry for all

Months after his hip replacement, "the pain was grabbing me around the back," said Stephen Csengeri, a 54-year-old lawyer from California. He needed surgery again because of the pain. He has reached an undisclosed settlement with Zimmer Holdings, the maker of his metal hip socket.

His orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Dorr, realized that Stephen was one of many hip replacement patients with the same problem. Dr. Dorr contacted the device's manufacturer. X-rays showed the socket was separating from bone, rather than fusing with it. For patients, who had been told their new hips might last 15 to 20 years, it meant agony as the metal cup moved around in the hip socket and rubbed against bone.

One doctor told Dr. Dorr, "If ever there was an example of why we need a registry [recording all patients’ hip appliances], this is it." A registry is a database of each patient, the brand, model and type of appliance implanted, the surgical technique used, the doctor, and any subsequent replacement. Orthopedists in Sweden and Australia have used such registries to learn of systematic problems with particular devices. But there is no registry in the U.S. As a result, there is no systematic way for the public to know of patterns of problems.

Advice to joint replacement patients: Look into the devices beforehand on domestic and foreign registries and on the Internet.

Read another medical device lawsuit story.

Thanks to Barry Meier for the source story in today's New York Times.

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