Poorly-performing hand implants unacceptable says leading medical journal

Poorly-performing medical implants have hit the headlines recently, and the trend looks set to continue: the September issue of the Journal of Hand Surgery (JHS) homes in on the unacceptable performance of hand implants for osteoarthritis patients. Citing several recent studies, the editorial asks why these implants – which perform worse that certain hip replacement implants now deemed unacceptable – are still widely used. JHS is an online and print, orthopedic surgery journal published by SAGE.

The issue reports on a number of thumb arthroplasties – joint replacement operations at the base of the thumb – which are often used to treat arthritis. Orthopedic surgeons and the medical profession in general will be interested in research following up on outcomes for a range of implant brands used in this type of surgery. JHS names those that failed to make the grade, and recommends that they should be withdrawn.

Patients who have received a de la Caffiniere implant can expect good long term outcomes following their surgeries. However, those whose joints were replaced with the Moje, Elektra and Pi2 thumb CMC joint implants have less to celebrate, according to the latest follow-up research.

Editor-in-Chief, Grey Giddins, calls for people to readdress their opinions on using what is known and what is not necessarily the best, over what may be less known, but is ultimately performing better:

"We should make a stand as a profession and stop using implants with known poor outcomes unless other data is published to change our minds. Moreover, we should continue to be careful about being encouraged into using other new implants until adequate long term follow-up is available."

Supported by notable research studies, the editorial suggests that failing Moje and Electra should be withdrawn, and while just one study on the Pi2 implant is insufficient to recommend withdrawal, the journal asks surgeons to use it with caution in future.

More information: "Editorial" by Grey Giddins, editor-in-chief published on 09 August 2012 in The Journal of Hand Surgery. The article will be free to access for a limited time here: http:/jhs.sagepub.com/

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