The Problem with Hip Procedures

A recent front-page article in the NY Times suggested that the latest hip procedure involving hip resurfacing or hip shaving is gaining popularity, especially among athletes. The resurfacing or shaving concerns a relatively quick surgical procedure that involves removing part of the top of the femur in order to reshape and/or remove bumps or grooves in the surface. In theory, this appears to be a good idea. However, like other hip procedures such as hip implants such as the DePuy ASR XL or the Zimmer hip implants, the resurfacing procedure has scant scientific evidence that shows it is effective in alleviating pain and increasing agility.
That’s really the issue with the recent spate of hip replacement lawsuits involving the Zimmer or DePuy ASR and Pinnacle hips. The marketing of these hips and procedures has progressed beyond the available scientific evidence. In other words, these new products are being sold without solid pre-marketing evidence that they actually work. Inevitably, this leads to hip implant recalls and lawsuits. The medical device industry has for too long been allowed to market products that don’t work and are actually more injurious to the patient than older methods and devices.
This may or may not prove true with the most recent hip resurfacing procedure. However, since there is scant evidence to suggest it works, why are these procedures approved for use on young athletes? That’s a good question for the FDA and the entire industry that seems to have placed profits over patient safety.