Articles Posted in Shoulder pain pumps

A recently issued report indicates that shoulder pain pumps – pumps used to deliver intra-articular pain medication during surgery – may be causing more harm than good. Anesthesiology News joins the New York Times, the FDA and hundreds of patients nationwide citing the potential for devastating and long-term shoulder injuries as the result of physician’s using pain pumps during arthroscopic surgery.

Intra-articular injections have become increasingly common – as a way of providing post-operative pain management to shoulder and knee surgery. However, use following shoulder surgery is unapproved.

As early as 2007, reports of “post arthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis” (PAGCL) began emerging. PAGCL is a “severe, life-altering complication” involving significant shoulder pain and loss of shoulder motion in patients following arthroscopic shoulder surgery. PAGCL may cause permanent shoulder damage.

Last November the FDA warned, “The significance of injury to otherwise healthy young adult warrants notification to health care professionals.” In January, an Oregon jury awarded $5.5 million to a patient who suffered chondrolysis.

Now, Anesthesiology News reports that the safety and efficacy of shoulder pain pumps “is anything but clear cut.” As noted in the article, the effect of combining a well-established drug with a new application is a “new, untoward outcome.”

Currently, at least 150 lawsuits have been filed linking the shoulder pain pumps and chondrolysis.
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On January 22, an Oregon jury awarded a chondrolysis patient nearly $5.5 million in compensation. According New York Times, more than 150 such lawsuits are currently making their way through the court system.

Chondrolysis is a rare ailment in which joint cartilage dies, resulting in bone grinding on bone. Many times this surgery affects athletes, ending their athletic careers and leaving them with a lifetime of pain and disability.

Litigation against pain pump manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and physicians using the pumps has exploded recently as more and more patients are discovering injuries attributable to the use of pain pumps during surgery. The pumps deliver controlled doses of pain medication directly to the surgical site, and often eliminate the need for post-surgical pain medication.

Findings suggest using these pain pumps in surgery causes shoulder joint cartilage to break down, resulting in pain and loss of mobility.

In November, the FDA issued a bulletin stating that it had never approved the use of shoulder pain pumps directly with joints. Doctors counter this, arguing that labels on pain pumps were vague and labels did not specifically warn against use of pain pumps in the joints.
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