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.