Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Zimmer Hip Replacement Problems: Device or Surgeon?

Zimmer is making claims that there have been an excessive number of Zimmer hip failures associated with their Durom Cup knee replacement system not because the device itself is faulty, but because surgeons who are implanting the device in patients are doing so incorrectly. They also cite other possible complications that could have an impact on the viability of the device – infection, dislocation, trauma, bone fractures, and metal hypersensitivity could, claims Zimmer, make a medical device such as the Durom Cup more prone to failure. Despite these claims, a class action lawsuit has been filed in Canada that involves every one of the almost 5,000 Canadians who were fitted with a Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement system.

Because the lawsuit involves such a significant number of plaintiffs, two have been chosen as representative of the lawsuit – Susan Wilkinson and Dennis Jones. Both of these patients were fitted with their Zimmer devices in 2008 and experienced hip replacement failure when their devices did not fuse to their bone. Before undergoing revision surgery, they both felt symptoms like pain and difficulty moving.  

The Zimmer hip class action lawsuit was approved recently by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowen. He cited the fact that at least 33 cases of Durom Cup failure were reported throughout Canada, with 21 of these cases involving pain and loosening and 4 involving failure of the Durom Cup to adhere to the bone of the patient. These figures reflect similar statistics in the United States and in other countries where this specific device has been made available.

Zimmer seems to only be able to blame the high rates of revision surgery and unprecedented rates of symptoms like pain and difficulty walking on factors beyond their control, but it is likely that the opposite will be pointed out in court – with lawyers for the prosecution citing evidence including a warning about the Durom Cup by prominent surgeon Dr. Dorr, Zimmer’s own Field Safety Notification, and the fact that Durom Cup sales were ceased in the United States in 2010. The device continues to be sold and marketed in Canada, although this class action lawsuit could certainly change things. 


  1. This issue is similar to a Depuy Pinnacle hip recall, patients claimed that the DePuyASR XL Acetabular System was defective and filed a Depuy Pinnacle Hip Lawsuit to be compensated.