If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It: Older Hip and Knee Devices Are Just As Good As The New Ones

It’s what we’ve been saying for years now. The old artificial hip and knee devices were just as reliable and effective (perhaps more so) than the new ones. While slick PR and marketing campaigns employed by medical device companies tried to convince consumers and healthcare professionals otherwise, a new study has found that the older versions were indeed just as reliable, if not more so than the new devices.
According to the NY Times, “The study, which draws on data from Australia’s orthopedic registry, covered implants introduced from 2003 to 2007 and was published this week. The findings are significant for patients in the United States because many of the new designs, like so-called metal-on-metal hips, are widely used here. Those implants, which have both a ball and cup made of metal, are expected to fail prematurely in tens of thousands of patients rather than lasting 15 years or more as artificial joints are supposed to do.
The Australian study showed that not a single new artificial hip or knee introduced over a recent five-year period was any more durable than older ones. In fact, 30 percent of them fared worse.”
Unfortunately, the new hip and artificial hip devices such as the Stryker hips, NexGen knee devices, Zimmer Durom Cup hips, and the DePuy ASR XL and DePuy Pinnacle hips may all be the result of marketing initiatives whose main purpose is profit. In these cases, I suspect good science and quality patient care have been sacrificed in favor of company profits. Medical device companies make higher profits when they are regularly adding new products to the market.