I read in the news the other day about a hip replacement recall because there was something wrong with the device. How can they do this and how can they know who has that type of hip?
Artificial hips, like most other man-made objects, may fail from time to time. It's unfortunate, but it does happen. They may fail due to a design flaw, a problem in manufacturing, or even surgical error. When this happens, it's important that the manufacturer knows because news has to be sent out to the orthopedic surgeons who use the devices and the hospitals and clinics who order them.
Every person who has anything artificial implanted into their body, be it an artificial hip or a breast implant, has a chart of their surgery. The serial number of the implant is noted in that chart - and every implant has a serial number. By identifying the type of implant (name of the implant and the manufacturer), we can pinpoint which doctors and hospitals use them. Then, we can narrow down who may have received the implant by matching serial numbers.
John J. Callaghan, MD. et al. Survivorship of a Charnley Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. No. 91. Pp. 2617 to 2621.
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