Tracking patients would give doctors a better sense of the complications, including rupture, migration, and infections, that follow surgery.
Long before the latest global breast implant scare, American health officials were toying with the idea of building a registry that would track patients with implants. The registry would give a better idea of the number of complications over time, such as rupture or infection.
But to this day, none exists for the world's largest health care market, which often serves as a global model for regulatory practice. Some individual countries in Europe have made their own attempts but with only limited success, and there is no continent-wide registry.
In the wake of the current scandal surrounding France's Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which used industrial grade silicone instead of medical grade silicone in implants placed surgically in some 300,000 women worldwide, advocates for a registry are again pushing the idea.
The French government has advised the 30,000 women in France who bought the implants to have them removed and governments in several other countries, such as Britain and Brazil, have asked women to visit their doctors for checks.
"If we had had registries, we would have known years ago if it's true that PIP implants break sooner," said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families. "We would have known if Mentor ones break sooner or later than Allergan's," she said, referring to the two largest makers of breast implants.