With New Technologies, Slow Adoption is Best
The enemy of the good is the better. It’s an axiom we hear during our surgical training, and it was my first thought when reading the article by Hunt et al. in the February 7, 2018 edition of JBJS. The authors examine failure rates associated with the rapid adoption and widespread use of metal-on-metal (MoM) total hip arthroplasties (THAs) and hip resurfacings.
Carefully analyzing data from the National Joint Registry for England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2003 to 2014, Hunt et al. ascertained that MoM hip resurfacings and MoM total hip arthroplasties resulted in 10-year revision rates that were almost 3 and 5 times higher, respectively, than the expected revision rates for standard hip procedures. This meant that within 10 years, there were almost 8 excess revisions for every 100 MoM hip resurfacings and almost 16 excess revisions for every 100 MoM total hip arthroplasties. Just as troubling was the finding that 20% of those excess revisions needed at least one additional revision within 7 years.
As orthopaedic surgeons, we strive to make things better for patients, which may tempt us to try a “new and improved” technology for a nominal (or presumed) improvement in outcome, when the one we are currently using works just fine. It is our responsibility as surgeons not to be blind to the unintended consequences new technologies may have on our patients.
I agree with the blunt directive Hunt et al. issue in the final sentence of their abstract: “This practice of adopting new technologies without adequate supporting data must not be repeated.”
Chad A. Krueger, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media