In 2006 Zimmer Holdings, the world’s largest manufacturer of orthopedic devices, introduced the Zimmer Durom Cup Hip Implant in the United States. Since that time, thousands of implants have been surgically inserted into American patients. The device had been used successfully in Europe since 2003 before being tried in the U.S. Unfortunately, its road to success has been far bumpier in the U.S. than it has been in Europe, and U.S. sales have been put on hold.
Physicians who performed the unsuccessful surgeries claim that the Zimmer Cup is a defective piece of equipment. Zimmer counters with the fact that it has been so successful in Europe and contends that the surgeons must be at fault. They do agree, however, that surgeons have not had access to adequate training in the correct procedures to use when performing the implant and that this lack of training has been instrumental in the failure of the replacement surgeries. With this fact in mind, Zimmer voluntarily suspended U.S. implant sales until a method of training surgeons is in place. Sadly, some surgeons are still blaming the device itself and are unwilling to perform more implant surgeries no matter what kind of training they are offered.
Under the laws of most states, patients who suffer from the effects of defective orthopedic devices are entitled to compensation if the device doesn’t perform as expected. These laws state that patients can be compensated for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages if it is the device that is at fault. So, the battle goes on with Zimmer claiming there is nothing wrong with the design of the Durom Cup and with physicians blaming the device for the failed surgeries.
Hip implants have been recorded as early as 1891 when surgeons used ivory fittings in an attempt to replace the femoral head. It wasn’t until 1960, though, that a Burmese surgeon, Dr. San Baw, used ivory to try and replace broken hip bones which started the modern era of hip replacement surgery. During a 20-year period Dr. Baw did over 300 hip surgeries and claimed an 88% success rate.
Modern hip replacement devices owe their origin to John Charnley who pioneered a 3-part artificial hip joint. Developed in the 1970s, this device or an adaptation of it was used all over the world for over 20 years. Then, in 2003, Zimmer introduced the Durom Cup which was touted as the best hip replacement device ever created during its initial try-outs in Europe.
There has been a vast improvement in both hip replacement devices and the surgical methods used to implant them in the years since the first procedures were performed, but the operation still has its problems. The most common problem patients with a Zimmer Durom Cup implant have is in the implant slipping. This occurs due to the fact that the implant is built smaller than the patient’s original bones, and if it isn’t inserted correctly, it can move around. In addition, the implant can sometimes loosen and infections can occur. In spite of the risks involved with this surgery, physicians still prefer that the patients who have serious problems with their hip joints undergo the procedure.
Zimmer Holdings says it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be able to offer the proper training to American surgeons and put the Durom Cup implant back on the U.S. market. The company is working to perfect the training as well as to resolve the lawsuits that surround it. Company executives are still firm believers in the merits of the device and in the profound difference it can make for patients with serious hip problems if it is used in the right manner.