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Former Consultant Sounded Alarm Over Zimmer Knee Replacement Problems

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After years of paying a prominent orthopedic surgeon millions of dollars to train doctors and serve as consultant, Zimmer Holdings dismissed their star surgeon’s concerns about problems with Zimmer NexGen knee replacement systems and cut off their relationship.  

In an investigative story in the New York Times, Dr. Richard A. Berger indicates that his relationship with the company disintegrated after he voiced concerns over the safety and durability of the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex. Dr. Berger claims that when he pointed out that the adhesive-free version of the implant was not fusing to patients’ bones as it should, the company told him that the problem lay with his inability to implant the knee device properly.

Zimmer reportedly paid Dr. Berger more than $8 million over 10 years for orthopedic consultation, then the medical device manufacturer unexpectedly ended its relationship with the doctor last year, the Times reports. The company claims that the decision not to renew his contract was just a regular rotation of consultants, but many believe the action underscores the consequences such prominent doctors face when they speak out against medical device manufacturers who pay them large consulting fees.

Recently, Dr. Berger and another surgeon presented a study at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual conference in New Orleans, which suggested that the Zimmer NexGen knee replacement problems resulted in nearly a 10% failure rate.

In early 2008, Zimmer made similar attempts to shift blame for problems with their products to the surgical technique of the doctor. Dr. Larry Dorr, a prominent Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon, presented data to members of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons in April 2008 about a higher-than-expected rate of revisions among patients who received the Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement. After initially dismissing Dr. Dorr’s concerns and blaming the surgical technique, Zimmer eventually conducted their own investigation and acknowledged the problems.

A temporary Zimmer Durom Cup recall was issued in July 2008 so that changes could be made to the warnings and instructions provided with the product. The company now faces a number of Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuits filed by individuals who have experienced problems with the hip replacement.

Following the release of Dr. Berger’s study, some product liability lawyers have begun investigating potential Zimmer NexGen replacement knee lawsuits for individuals who have experienced complications, such as loosening of the knee implant or the need for further revision surgery.

Dr. Berger says he has shifted away from the use of Zimmer products after his experience, telling the New York Times that he no longer has confidence in the company’s products.

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4 comments

  1. George Reply

    Mine was replaced about 5 years ago and now I hear a grinding noise when I flex the knee. The other knee was replaced a few months later but not a Zimmer product and no problem so far. I will see the Zimmer doctor the end of January for a follow up. I believe he was trained at Rush Memorial with Dr. Berger.

  2. Gary Reply

    Within fifty (50) weeks after my Zimmer Nex-Gen replacement I had a total of three operations which started 2/14 replaced with Zimmer device 24/7 pain and swelling 8/30 scoped to find cause advised to remove in September went for second opinion and the replacement had to be removed 02/04 operation found Femoral component loose. A complete revision was completed stopped work and have not been able to return since.

  3. H.BURKE-DAVIS Reply

    I HAVE BILATERIAL KNEE REPLACEMENTS AND HAVE HAD REVISIONS DONE ALMOST 8 MONTHS AFTER EACH TKR! I WAS TOLD ABOUT MY BONE LOSS DUE TO THE IMPLANT, WHICH MAKES ONE OF MY LEGS SHORTER THAN THE OTHER. I HAVE HAD PAIN THROUGHOUT THESE PROCEDURES…THE DOCTOR COULD NOT UNDERSTAND BACK THEN WHY I KEPT COMPLAINING OF KNEE PAIN, THE DOCTORS BANK ON THE ZIMMER KNEE REPLACEMENT TO FIT EVERYONE…WELL THEY DON’T AND I AM LIVING PROOF OF THIS!!! I HAVE HAD REVISIONS, REPLACEMENT OF PARTS, CLEAN-OUTS, PAIN MANAGEMENT (OH, MY LORD…PAIN MANAGEMENT WHAT A NIGHTMARE….I ALMOST DIED DUE TO OVER MEDICATION! NOT EVERYONE STRIVES TO BECOME A DRUG ADDICT!) ALL ANY OF US EVERY WANTED WAS TO BE ABLE TO LIVE OUR LIVES WITHOUT PAIN OR AT LEAST A REDUCTION ! TO HAVE SOME FORM OF LIFE WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS, I HAVE UNDERGONE LUMBAR FUSION DUE TO MY GATE BEING OFF FROM THE KNEE OPERATIONS! I KNEW I WASN’T CRAZY! JUST HAVING SO MUCH UNEXPLAINABLE PAIN THAT THEY ALMOST MADE ME INTO A RX “DRUGGIE”. I AM ONLY 53 AND I WAS FORCED TO RETIRE 10+ YEARS AGO! I AM WAY TOO YOUNG WITH A FAMILY WHO NEEDS ME TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS!!!!!!! SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALL THE PAIN WE WHO HAVE UNDERGONE KNEE REPLACEMENT OPERATIONS HAVE SUFFERED!!!!!!

  4. BOOKER T> Reply

    I HAVE HAD PAIN SINCE DAY ONE. I DON’T HAVE FULL RANGE OF MOTION AND HAVE UNDERGONE PAIN MGT. I’VE BEEN GIVEN PRACTICALLY EVERY TYPE PAIN MEDICINE AVAILABLE TO NO AVAIL.I’VE UNDERGONE PHYSICAL AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY, ACCUPUNCTURE AND ALL THE DOCTORS HAVE TOLD ME IS IT IS WHAT IT IS . AND AFTER ALL THESE YEARS THEY FINALLY TOLD ME I FELL IN THAT CATAGORY OF THE THREE PERCENT THAT DON’T GO RIGHT. IT IHAS PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY AFFECTED MY HEALTH AND ABILITY TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY THE WAY I COULD IF I WAS’NT BY THIS PROCEDURE.

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