Joint replacement with artificial implants has become a common procedure across the United States and around the world. These surgeries often help to restore mobility in patients whose joints have been damaged by injury or diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Periodically, manufacturers introduce new models of these joint replacement devices. Unfortunately, not all of them have successful outcomes. The Zimmer Nexgen knee replacement implant is one that has had a number of problems with the components and has been involved in thousands of lawsuits.
Knee Replacement Implant Devices
The basic design of knee replacement implants must mimic the function of the natural knee. Essentially, knee replacement implants fit on the ends of the upper and lower leg bones with a hinged mechanism that allows it to bend easily without overbending. Generally, a small metal ball is added to simulate the natural kneecap. Different manufacturers produce a variety of designs in the components of the artificial implant and how they attach to the leg bones. Zimmer, Inc. is a manufacturer or orthopedic implant devices that have been used in hundreds of thousands of knee replacement surgeries.
The Zimmer Nexgen Knee Replacement Implant
Zimmer, Inc. has been manufacturing knee replacement implants since 1968. As knee replacement surgery became more widely available, the company offered a number of different implant models. The evolution of their products continued over the years until 1995, when the Nexgen Complete Knee Solution System was introduced. It was an extremely successful product, used in over three million knee replacement operations. The company’s effort to expand on their success led to the development of a number of improvements in the components of the NexGen implant. However, in the process of improving the implant, the new materials and designs also created problems. A number of medical issues arose that resulted in reports of failure and complications with the new designs.
Problems With New Components
One of the problems with Zimmer NexGen knee implants came as a result of designing the MIS tibial component to fit a number of Zimmer implant products. This component was designed to be used in a four to five-inch incision instead of the traditional eight to twelve-inch incision. Although the improvement promised to reduce blood loss and recovery time, it also required increased technical skill and left considerable room for error. The component resulted in high failure rates because of difficulty placing the unit and improper cementing.
Other Device Designs Cause More Problems
Another problem occurred with the GSF femoral component. It was designed to fit women’s needs better, providing additional stability and superior fit. However, it also had problems with high rates of failure, with collapse of the component and the frequent need for revision surgery. Yet another component, the Natural Knee II Dura-sul All-Poly Patella, was prone to fracture and failure. It was recalled in January of 2012. Problems with these components led to additional treatment, increased medical costs and significant pain and suffering in those who received the implants.
Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant Recall
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration began receiving complaints about the Zimmer NexGen knee replacement implant as early as 2010. In September of that year, the FDA issued a medium-severity Class II recall for the tibial component. Bye 2012, the ECRI, a renowned health science institute, issued sent a High Priority Medical Device Alert to thousands of hospitals around the world, warning them about the high rate of failure reported in these devices.
Zimmer NexGen Knee Replacement Implant Lawsuits
The failure of the knee implant components and the resulting distress to patients led to thousands of lawsuits against the manufacturer, Zimmer, Inc. The suits requested compensation not only fro the grievous injury and pain to patients, but also for reimbursement of additional medical expenses and loss of wages due to medical problems associated with the implant problems. As many as 700 lawsuits were filed in regard to patient injury from the defective knee implant components. These suits were consolidated into a multi-jurisdictional court in Northern Illinois. Attorneys claim that Zimmer, Inc. rushed the new and more expensive products to the market without adequate testing and failed to inform patients of the problems in a timely manner.
What Patients Can Do
If you have had a knee implant, it is important for you to find out the type of device you have received during your surgery. You can get this information from your physician or from medical bills you have received after your surgery. Research information about the knee implant on the U.S. Food & Drug Recall site. If you have had additional medical problems related to the knee implant, talk to your physician about the product recalls and whether you should have revision surgery to correct the problems. Be alert to any changes in physical condition so that you can discuss them with your doctor at the earliest opportunity.
Getting Legal Advice for NexGen Knee Implant Problems
If you or a loved one has been affected by the Zimmer knee implant defective components and have had to undergo revision surgery or had continuing medical issues associated with the knee implants, consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling defective medical device cases. These attorneys can give you the best advice regarding the eligibility of your injury, necessary medical records to file the lawsuit and other supporting documents needed to provide the most comprehensive information to the court for a successful outcome for your case.