More Problems for Zimmer – NexGen Knee Failures

The Zimmer NexGen knee is a ‘high-flex’ porous femoral component that attaches to the bottom of the thighbone instead of using cement to keep the knee replacements in place. Beginning in April, 2010, surgeons began calling for recalls of the devices, based on a dangerously high failure rate, resulting in revision surgeries or close monitoring for radiographic loosening of the knees.

On July 29, 2010, Charles Grassley wrote a letter to the President and CEO of Zimmer Holdings, indicating that he knew of many physicians who were paid millions of dollars to represent various Zimmer products, but also specifically mentioning the NexGen knees. He noted that even some of the doctors who were supposed to advocate for the knees, per their hire by Zimmer, were telling the manufacturer that there were serious problems and the devices were failing at a very high rate. They presented data at an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference, that showed of 108 patients, 36% had loose implants only two years after use, and 9.3% had to be revised. They demanded a complete recall of the product and advised against implanting certain Zimmer replacement systems due to the product’s high occurrence of knee implant loosening and revision surgery. The research team concluded that Zimmer knee replacement problems were associated with the implant’s design and were unrelated to the surgeon, surgical technique, or inherent factors of the patient receiving the knee replacement.

In response, Zimmer issued a statement claiming that the problem was with the surgeons; if they had simply implanted the devices correctly, they would have a high success rate. The exact reason for the failure of the device is not yet known. Some non-cement femoral components appear to be functioning correctly.

Symptoms of Zimmer knee implant complications may include:

Knee stiffness
Constant knee pain
Trouble placing weight on the knee
Diminished joint movement

A major reason for knee implant failure is a loosening of the knee replacement. Patients who have experienced unexplained knee pain or difficulty walking after surgery should speak with their doctor, as they may be experiencing early Zimmer knee implant failure and could require revision surgery.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as the result of a defective Zimmer knee implant, please contact our office immediately so that we may assess your potential claim.