Within the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of recalled medical devices called pain pumps. Pain pumps typically are portable and often disposable pain management devices which continuously administer local anesthetic through a catheter to a surgical site for a certain time period following surgery to decrease post-operative pain and assist in earlier rehabilitation. One of the recent notable injuries due to defective pain pumps has been the destruction of shoulder cartilage attributed to the application of anesthetic medication directly into the joint space via the pain pump catheter. However, pain pumps have caused various other injuries, resulting in their withdrawal from the market.
One type of injury resulting in recalled pain pumps is neurologic injuries caused by the development of catheter-associated intra-spinal masses or lesions associated with the tips of spinal infusion catheters. These masses can either be cancerous or cause paralysis. Some of the studies looking at these injuries indicate that patients received a form of morphine or morphine combined with other analgesics and local anesthetics. The exact rate of these complications is unknown at this point, but range from one intrathecal mass per 1000 patients to three intrathecal masses per 60 patients.
These masses or lesions may cause acute spinal cord compression and be associated with a permanent neurologic injury or occur without any symptoms. The scientific literature suggests that these masses or lesions develop in patients receiving long-term analgesic drug therapy. Computed tomography (CT) scanning is a cost-effective tool for the early detection of catheter-associated masses to allow time for the protective treatment prior to the development of serious neurologic injury. Patients who have used recalled pain pumps with catheters are strongly encouraged to speak to their doctors about catheter-associated masses in order to prevent any potential future neurologic complications. If you want more information on the pain pump litigation you can contact either Navan Ward or Ted Meadows at 800-898-2034.
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