Knee replacement surgery, also know as arthroplasty, is a procedure in which a doctor surgically removes damaged areas of the knee and replaces them with plastic or metal implants. Doctors recommend a total knee replacement when other treatments fail to relieve pain and inflammation. Most pain and inflammation associated with total knee replacements is cause by arthritis.
A few different types of arthritis can cause knee pain. Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” condition that affects older people. Pain is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage and the surrounding bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects people of all ages. This type of arthritis causes inflammation of the synovial membranes, resulting in excessive fluid production. Traumatic arthritis is caused by an injury to the knee and can result in pain and stiffness.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is one of the biggest and most complex joints in the body. Two major leg bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage hold the knee together. The knee joins the tibia (lower leg bone) with the femur (upper leg bone). The other bones that make up the knee are the fibula (calf bone) and the patella (knee cap). Tendons connect the leg bones to the knee muscles. Ligaments connect the knee bones and provide stability to the knee.
Treatment for Knee Pain
Before your doctor orders a total knee replacement, they will first recommend conservative treatments to alleviate your knee pain. Treatment can include: the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen); glucosamine; pain medications; limiting strenuous activities; using walking assistant devices (walkers and canes); physical therapy; and cortisone injections into the knee joint. Doctors will also recommend weight loss for those patients who are overweight.
When these treatment options fail to provide relief from knee pain, a total knee replacement surgery may come next.
Total Knee Replacement Surgery
On the day of a total knee replacement surgery, patients will first be asked to change into a surgery gown. Second, patients will receive an IV line that will pump hydrating fluids and medications into their body. Third, they will be placed under general anesthesia while on the operating table. After the knee area has been cleaned, the surgeon will make an incision so that he or she can remove the damaged areas of the knee joint. Once the damaged areas have been removed, the surgeon will insert the knee implant(s), which are made of metal and/or plastic components. Surgical cement is typically used to keep all of the knee implant components in place. When all of the new knee components are in place, the surgeon will close the incision with stiches and a sterile bandage will be placed on the wound. Sometimes, a drain may be placed in the incision to remove fluid buildup.
Zimmer Knee Replacements and Recalls
Zimmer Holdings is one of the largest knee replacement manufacturers in the world. Unlike traditional knee replacement devices, several of Zimmer’s knee replacement devices were designed to eliminate the use of surgical cement. The goal of the devices is to promote bone growth.
Although the designs showed promise, numerous defective Zimmer knee replacement devices began failing at a high rate post-surgery. Zimmer received increasing complaints that their Persona Trabecular Metal Tibial Plate was causing loosening and radiolucent lines. Radiolucent lines are gaps in between the device and the bone that occur when the device is not secured properly. When the device is not secured properly, the gaps fill with fluid and tissue, causing bone damage, loosening, and overall device failure.
In March 2015, Zimmer voluntarily recalled over 11,000 Persona Trabecular Metal Tibial Plates due to reports of high failure rates. This wasn’t the first time Zimmer had been forced to recall knee replacement devices. In September of 2010, the NexGen Complete Knee Solution MIS Tibial Components, the NexGen TM Tibial Trays and the MIS Modular Tibial Plates and Keels were recalled after receiving pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Patients who received these knee replacement components were experiencing painful loosening that led to device failure. Knee stiffness, knee pain, limping, decreased range of motion in the knee joint, and difficulty putting weight on the knee were all indicative of a knee replacement failure. Within five years post-surgery, many patients had to undergo revision surgery.
Knee Replacement Lawsuits
Hundreds of Zimmer knee replacement recipients have filed lawsuits claiming the company sold products with design flaws. In Illinois alone, over 700 Zimmer lawsuits have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The cases included in the federal multi-juridiction litigation are: NexGen MIS Total Knee Procedure Stemmed Tibial Components, NexGen Complete Knee Solution CR-Flex, NexGen Complete Knee Solution Gender Solutions Female LPS-Flex, NexGen Complete Knee Solution Cruciate Retaining-Flex Femoral Components and NexGen Complete Solution Legacy Posterior Stabilized-Flex Femoral Components.
Although Zimmer voluntarily recalled several of these devices, they continue to blame surgeons for improperly implanting them.
Knee Replacement Lawyer
Total knee replacements typically last from 15 to 20 years. Zimmer’s faulty devices are lasting up to five years in some patients. You have a right to be compensated for the pain and suffering associated with these defective medical devices. Not only do the defective devices cause additional suffering to people whom already suffer from arthritis, but they also create additional doctor visits, surgeries, and lost wages.
If you have been injured by a Zimmer product or other metal knee implant, contact a defective medical implant lawyer to discuss your right of reimbursement for your harms and losses. Any company who unnecessarily endangers the public in the name of profits must pay for the harm they cause. Contact medical device lawyer Christopher Dixon for more information by calling (314) 409-7060 or completing our online contact form for an immediate call back.