In the last few years, there was a push toward accepting cobalt and chromium metal-on-metal hip implant designs as new-and-improved technology. But now the design is proving to have high revision rates. Some implants are failing in less than five years, when hip implants made from other materials such as ceramics or plastics have been known to last 20 years or more.
This has resulted in a wave of lawsuits aimed at metal-on-metal hip manufacturers such as DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Yasser Farid, MD, director of the Chicago Bone Metastases Center and a practicing orthopedic surgeon at the Chicago Center for Orthopedics at Weiss Memorial Hospital, hasn’t lost faith in the possibilities and opportunities offered by new technology. Despite the sudden push toward metal-on-metal hips that have proven to be problematic, Dr. Farid remains hopeful and believes that we should continue to strive for improving joint prosthetics.
Dr. Farid explained that advancements in technology for total hip replacements, especially those that will better benefit active, younger patients, were prompted by Baby Boomers that are striving to stay active as they age.
“Some enhanced traditional technologies are proving to be more effective than newer technologies,” Dr. Farid said, “such as metal-on-metal in total hip replacement, which caused significant problems. Focusing on the durability and longevity of the implants is key in having these implants stand the test of time for younger and more active patients.”
Dr. Farid also offered some advice for orthopedic surgeons that aim to “keep abreast” of the latest technologies and techniques in total joint replacement. “Be wise when offered a new technology or technique into your practice. Don’t be reactive just because it’s said to be the latest and greatest,” he advised. “Use common sense. Any new technology or technique needs to be affordable, testable and durable. The best test is time. Many specialists don’t want to wait. But orthopedic treatments now have evolved to a point where it might be best to hold off on a new technology proposed for the sake of making something new and wait until we can promise something better.”