Knee and Hip Implants: New Not Always Better Than Old?

New technology is supposed to be better than the old, but what happens if the new proves not only to be more expensive, but can show no real advancement prior to the older versions? Technology is an advancing arena but, with artificial hip and knee replacements, it is proving to not be the case.

In a study done by the Australian Orthopedic Registry, the data showed that many new designs are expected to fail prematurely, instead of lasting for 15 or more years. Not only are the new versions not enduring very long but 30 percent, of the new hip implants, and 29 percent, of the new knee joints, performed worse than the older models. In another study done on hips, commissioned by the FDA, the results indicated that there is not a single advantage of newer devices versus the older devices.

The question then becomes why are doctors using these newer models if they are more expensive and not performing as well as the older models? The reason is often because the when new versions are being introduced into the market there are no test statistics or clinical trial information showing the new models effectiveness over the old models. Because the evidence is not revealed until later, the probability of complications with your implant rises and as well as the chances of having to undergo revision surgery; which in turn leads to higher medical costs. Increased medical costs and revision surgery are usually not something a patient thinks about when initially deciding to undergo joint replacement. But with the case of these new models it is certainly a realistic factor.