Pain pumps are portable and often disposable pain management devices which continuously administer local anesthetic through a catheter to a surgical wound site for several days following surgery to decrease post-operative pain and assist in earlier rehabilitation. A “Y-connector” accessory is sometimes available so that the pain pump can be used on multiple wound sites. Examples of pain pump manufacturers include Stryker, I-Flow, CME McKinley, Breg, Medical Flow Systems, Baxter and Sgarlato Labs.
Recently, the use of pain pumps to administer medication directly into the glenohumeral joint space following shoulder surgery has been linked to a severe condition called Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (“Chondrolysis”), in which the cartilage of the humeral head and the glenoid space of the shoulder process has been destroyed and lost. The destruction of the shoulder cartilage can be attributed to the application of anesthetic medication directly into the joint space via the pain pump catheter. In 2003, it appears that some pain pump manufacturers may have increased the anesthetic dosing capacity of their pain pumps, which may have hastened the onset of Chondrolysis in some patients.
Chondrolysis symptoms usually present between six weeks and six months following surgery and include increased shoulder pain and stiffness, loss of cartilage, decreased range of motion, loss of shoulder joint space, crepitus in the shoulder and loss of strength. Patients suffering from Chondrolysis are usually unable to complete their post-surgical physical therapy due to pain. Whatever the patient’s condition was prior to his or her shoulder surgery, the post-operative diagnosis of Chondrolysis is typically much worse. Ultimately, complete shoulder replacement surgery (acromioarthroplasty) could become necessary in order to eliminate the painful and debilitating symptoms of Chondrolysis.
Lawyer: Frank Woodson
Primary Contact: Cathy Perry
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