As our population continues to age, joint replacements are becoming an increasingly common procedure designed to prolong an active lifestyle. Since 2006, over 12,000 patients have been implanted with the Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement. In July 2008, Zimmer Holdings, the nation' largest producer of joint replacements, suspended its sales of Zimmer Durom Cups following reports the cups had high failure rates and are defective. These failure rates stem from the inability of the Durom cup to bond in many patients and, as result, the cup migrates from the desired position.
During a physicians' conference in April 2008, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Larry Dorr, publically warned other orthopedic surgeons about the Zimmer Cups high failure rates. Zimmer responded by blaming the high failure rate on surgical errors, suggesting surgeons in America failed to use proper surgical technique: "Like all metal-on metal monoblock acetabular components, the technology and design parameters of the Durom Cup demand a surgical technique with a higher degree of precision and specificity compared to more common and familiar hip arthoplasty surgical techniques practiced in the U.S."
The Zimmer Durom failure rates were brought to light more publically in a July 2008 letter to the New York Times by Dr. Larry Dorr. In his letter, Dr. Dorr warned the medical community about Durom Cup failures:
"This NOTICE is to inform you that we have had ten revisions in 165 hips and have four more that need to be revised using the Durom cup (Zimmer, Inc). This failure rate has occurred within the first two years. In the first year the x-ray looked perfect. We have revised four that did not have any radiolucent lines or migration (and John Moreland revised one). These early cups fooled us, but the symptoms were so classic for a loose implant that we operated the patients. When we hit the edge of the cup it would just pop free. As time goes by the cups begin developing translucent lines. We now have one cup at two years that has actually migrated a short distance. It has tilted into varus. We did not believe the fixation surface is good on these cups. Also there is a circular cutting surface on the periphery of the cup that we believe prevents the cup from fully seating. We stopped using the cup after the first revisions. We have notified Zimmer. The FDA has been notified and we will notify them of our continued revisions. The company does not believe it should pull the cup from the market so I am notifying my colleagues of our failure rate with this cup. I went through a similar scenario with the Sulzer cup failures where I was the only one experiencing revisions at the beginning and basically it was assumed that it was our technique. I can assure you that this goes beyond technique. I learned my lesson in not informing everyone about the magnitude of failures with the Sulzer cup problem, so it is my obligation to do so with this cup."
Unfortunately, there are thousands of patients who have been implanted with Zimmer Durom Cups. Patients who have received a hip replacement over the last few years should strongly consider contacting their physician to determine whether a Zimmer Durom was implanted. Even if the hip replacement has yet to fail, patients may nevertheless be eligible to join a class action lawsuit.