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The choice to undergo a knee or hip replacement is usually undertaken following an exhaustive and yet ultimately unsuccessful approach to non-surgical methods such as physical therapy, periods of rest and medication. However, the issue of such replacements has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons with several manufacturers recalling or highlighting problems with certain products.

One such product is the LCS Complete RPS Knee System (the “knee System”) which is manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. and is intended for use in total knee replacements in the cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It consists of an LCS Complete RPS Femoral Implant and the compatible LCS Complete RPS Insert.

In March 2015 DePuy Orthopaedics initiated a field safety corrective action for the knee system following a notification by the Australian regulatory authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) that the LCS Complete RPS Knee System has a higher rate of failure than other knee systems. It was discovered following further research that the LCS Complete system has a higher rate of reversion in Australia when the native patella is not resurfaced when compared to other unresurfaced implants. In fact, almost four times the rate. At four years, the LCS had a 12.9% revision rate versus 3.6% of other systems, when the patella was not resurfaced. As a result of these findings the company is warning against the use of the LCS system without resurfacing the native patella.

This is not the first time knee replacements were the focus of scrutiny. In December 2012, DePuy reached a settlement for a class action concerning faulty knee implants distributed in Australia. This class action commenced in March 2010 in the Federal Court of Australia by Pamela Casey against DePuy International Ltd and Johnson & Johnson Medical Pty Ltd. This particular action arose from the failure of DePuy LCS Duofix femoral components (LCS Duofix knee implant) which were recalled in Australia in late July 2009.

The proceedings brought against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson alleged that:

  • The implants were not reasonably fit for the purpose for which they were supplied;
  • The implants were not of merchantable quality; and
  • DePuy was negligent in manufacturing the implants.

Hip replacements have also come under close scrutiny in recent times with a British Orthopaedic Group claiming a hip replacement made by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit fails as often as 49% of the time. The British Orthopaedic Association and the British Hip Society stated in 2011 that the ASR XL Acetabular System required a revision or second operation in instances ranging from 21% after 4 years to 49 % after 6 years in data provided by 4 surgeons.

Symptoms which could indicate a faulty knee or hip replacement include:

  • Acute pain;
  • Swelling around the hip or knee joint;
  • Instability;
  • Discomfort when climbing stairs;
  • Little or no relief when using a walking cane and, or
  • Difficulty straightening the knee.

Should you or a family member be affected by any of the issues raised here, please contact our expert medical negligence solicitors, who specialise in medical negligence claims, and can provide legal advice.

Rachael Liston
Tel.:+353 1 637 6200

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Orpen Franks Solicitors

28 & 30 Burlington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland

Telephone: +353 1 637 6200

Facsimile: +353 1 637 6262