Dr. Dorr, 67, is a veteran of more than 5,000 hip replacement surgeries, a $30,000 to $40,000 procedure lasting more than an hour in which metal tools that would look at home in a garage are clanged and bashed against bone. He has been at it for three decades, long enough to say that history is repeating itself because this country does not gather evidence of how patients fare.
Eight years ago, he alerted another implant producer, Sulzer Orthopedics, that patients with one of its hip implants were having such pain they needed replacement surgery almost immediately. Sulzer withdrew the device six months later, but about 3,000 patients got replacements for the implant, which had become contaminated by oil during manufacturing. Sulzer, deluged by lawsuits, filed for bankruptcy protection.
But because of their registry, Swedish doctors were alerted after just 30 patients got the Sulzer hip that it had an alarmingly high replacement rate, Dr. Malchau said.
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