Medpor Nose Implant Linked to High Rate of Complications

Medpor nose implants have been linked to an increased rate of complications, according to emerging research. Nose surgery—rhinoplasty—is a common surgical procedure, both for cosmetic and reconstructive purposes, in men and women under the age of 35, noted Bloomberg Businessweek.

Medpor nose implants have been implicated to infections with about one in five nose jobs utilizing the common plastic implant, said Reuters. In just about every one of those cases, the Medpor implant began poking through the surgical wound. Medpor is manufactured from a porous high-density polyethylene.

“The infection rate was extremely high and startling,” said study lead, Dr. Andrew Winkler, a plastic surgeon at the University of Colorado in Denver. “There are still situations where you may consider Medpor, but you need to weigh the pros and cons carefully,” he told Reuters.

Winkler’s study, the largest of its kind, to date, involved a review of medical records for 659 patients who had undergone nose jobs for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons, said Reuters. Three surgeons at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland carried out all of the surgeries; most were completed without the use of Medpor. Medpor and Gore-Tex are the  commonly used nose implants in the United States and were used in 151 cases, said Reuters, noting that the material in Gore-Tex is known as expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE).

Porex Technologies, maker of Medpor, did not return Reuters phone calls or emails requesting comment. Joe Cooper, a spokesman for Stryker, declined to comment to Bloomberg Businessweek on the study’s findings. Stryker Corp. makes Medpor and W. L. Gore & Associate’s manufactures Gore-Tex, said Businessweek. Stryker gained Medpor in its October 2010 acquisition of Porex Surgical, said Businessweek.

The study, which appears in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, found that, in all, there were 19 infections; all occurred in cases in which the plastic implants were used. In all but one of the infections, the implant protruded through the skin, said Reuters, citing the study. Gore-Tex was associated with a five percent infection rate.

No complications were seen when grafted patient tissue—from the patients’ nose, ear, or rib cartilage—was used, said Reuters. According to Winkler, grafting the patient’s cartilage is the best solution, but is not always practical.

While the study—and prior studies—suggests that Gore-Tex is safer, said Winkler, Gore-Tex and Medpor are used for different purposes. One product is stiff and the other, soft, so they can not be used interchangeably, said Reuters. Medpor is firm; made from porous, high-density polyethylene; and used to help structurally rebuild the nose. Gore-Tex is flexible and typically used on the ridge of the nose to build up height, Winkler told Businessweek.

“The infection rate was even higher than I would have expected,” said Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, chief of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Boston Medical Center, wrote Reuters. When these types of artificial implants become infected, antibiotics are often insufficient and the only resolution is to remove the implant and conduct more surgery, Dr. Speigel told Reuters. Spiegel was not involved in the study. “This is a cautionary paper,” Winkler told Businessweek, adding, “The patient needs to be aware that the complication rate is higher with this implant, at least in this study.”

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