Intended for healthcare professionals


Lessons of a hip failure

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 28 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:644

If we want improved prostheses we must regulate their use

  1. Sarah K Muirhead-Allwood, Consultant in revision and hip reconstructive surgery
  1. Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex HA7 4LP

    News p 650

    The hazard warning issued this month by the Medical Devices Agency in Britain on the 3M Capital hip system evoked emotion but no surprise among hip surgeons.1 Previous reports of failures have suggested the need for better surveillance,2 and five years ago a BMJ editorial warned, presciently, “This ‘fashion trade’ in joint replacements is costing the health service many millions of pounds each year and, even more important, is causing patients unnecessary pain and distress through early failure of unproved implants.”3 The 3M Capital hip was introduced in 1991 as a low cost hip replacement. Adverse reviews have already been reported, and its failure rates of 19-21% at five years1 are four times what would normally be expected and suggest an intrinsic problem. Yet over six years 4669 have been implanted in 95 centres throughout Britain. For a new and untested hip to have ben introduced into so many clinical centres in such a short …

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