UK joint registry makes it easy to identify and contact DePuy hip implant recipients

This is Cheshire, an online periodical serving northwest England, reports that 52 patients in the towns of Warrington and Halton have been affected by DePuy Orthopaedics’ recall of its ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing implant systems. DePuy announced its recall of the faulty hip implants in the U.K. last August, after they had been implanted in 10,000 British citizens. But it’s not the numbers that are the most remarkable part of the Cheshire report, it’s the highly efficient British system of identifying, finding, and contacting the hip implant recipients.

The National Joint Registry (NJR) of England and Wales was the first independent entity in the world to discover the alarmingly high failure rates of DePuy’s implant systems, even though the same hip devices were being implanted in nearly four times as many U.S. patients. Analyzing national data, the NJR was able to determine that 12 percent of the ASR resurfacing devices failed and 13 percent of the ASR total hip replacements needed to be replaced after just five years. Additional hospital data, also from England, indicated that the failure rate for the two DePuy hip implant systems was likely four times higher, with nearly half of the devices failing within the first five years.

According to This is Cheshire, a Warrington and Halton Hospitals spokesman said, “Once we were informed of the recall we immediately identified the patients that have received these hip replacements and are in the process of contacting them to arrange appointments.”

The spokesman said that the hospitals had not used the implant devices since January 2010, about 7 months prior to the official recall, and that ultimately they had been used in just one percent of the hospitals’ hip replacement patients.

“We would like to stress to patients they do not need to contact us, we will be contacting all patients who have had hip replacements using the identified products,” the spokesman told This is Cheshire.

The U.S. currently does not have a central registry for orthopedic prostheses. Therefore, while the FDA began receiving complaints about DePuy hip implants as far back as 2007, it could not readily see the true extent of the problem because there was no centralized system of tracking hip implant recipients. Meanwhile, surgeons continued to implant the defective devices in American patients until they were formally recalled in August of last year.

A group of private orthopedic physicians is currently building an American joint registry, but data will be submitted to it on a voluntary basis by hospitals and health care practitioners.