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Is the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex Knee Replacement Defective?

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The Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex knee replacement device has come under scrutiny by researchers who say it is prone to early failure. This past March, data was presented at an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference that indicated that 36 percent of the Zimmer NexGen patients examined after two years showed signs of the replacement knee loosening. The same study, which involved 108 patients, also found that nearly 9 percent of the Zimmer NexGen patients examined after two years required revision knee surgery due to loosening and pain.

Since it was brought to market in 2003, more than 150,000 Zimmer NexGen knee implants have been sold. Zimmer’s NexGen CR-Flex knee device is a synthetic device used to cap the thigh bone (femur) where it connects with the tibia at the knee. Unlike traditional knee implants, the CR-Flex is made of a porous fiber metal and a cobalt-chromium-molybdenum alloy and is not attached using cement.

Dr. Richard Berger and Dr. Craig Della Valle, both surgeons at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and authors of the study presented this March wrote “[t]his component is still commercially available but should not be used for any patient.”

People who have received the Zimmer NexGen knee implant should contact their doctor if they experience any of these symptoms:

• Unexplained pain or discomfort after knee replacement
• Loosening of replacement knee
• Loose feeling in the replacement joint
• Difficulty walking

Any of these symptoms could indicate a premature failure of the device.

For its part, Zimmer has placed the blame on the orthopedic surgeons who implant the NexGen device and claims that failures were caused by surgical errors, problems with the technique or the type of patient who received the knee implant.

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