The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

November 22, 2013

Is this knee replacement product tainted by lawsuit?

DEAR DR. ROACH: I will be having a full knee replacement in early November. Because I am metal-sensitive, my surgeon will be using a titanium knee. He told me he would be using the Zimmer product. In researching on the Internet, I found that there are several lawsuits pending on the company’s products. Is the Internet overstating the problems with these products? Is there a substitute that I can talk to my surgeon about? — L.C.S.

ANSWER: There are a few issues here. The first is metal sensitivity. In people with a metal sensitivity or allergy (which is usually to nickel), a titanium device is a good choice.

Second, you can find scary stories about anything on the Internet. I have no doubt that there are many people who have had bad experiences with any particular brand of prosthesis, and because Zimmer is the most widely used manufacturer, it does not surprise me that its products are commonly listed. Two recent studies showed a need for revision using Zimmer products to be between 0.5 percent and 1.9 percent, which is as good as or better than other products. There has not been a Food and Drug Administration recall of its current knee prostheses, although, as is the case with other manufacturers, some components have been recalled. I did a search on a competing company and found multiple lawsuits there, too.

Third, the opinion that is most informed is that of your surgeon, who has a great deal of experience. I think it is entirely reasonable to share with him your concerns and ask if he thinks there is a better product for you.

DR. ROACH WRITES: Several readers have asked or assumed, but I do not endorse any particular product, and never accept any gifts, travel, cash or anything from pharmaceutical companies.

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