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New Study Links Shoulder Chondrolysis to Pain Pumps

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A groundbreaking new study has found a strong link between the use of infusion pain pumps and post-arthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis (PAGCL), a painful and debilitating condition that can lead to the need for total joint replacement. A large number of lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of these devices in recent years, alleging that the companies failed to research the devices adequately or warn the public about potential side effects.

What’s the problem?

April 14, 2011 - According to new research published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), the use of intra-articular pain pumps has been overwhelmingly linked to post-arthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis (PAGCL).

The new study - which is considered the first of its kind to research the association between shoulder pain pumps and PAGCL - examined 375 shoulder surgery patients by an individual community orthopedic surgeon. The research found that each case of PAGCL was linked to the infusion of either Marcaine (bupivacaine) or lidocaine directly into the joint space via pain pump. The authors of the study concluded by recommending that surgeons avoid the use of intra-articular pain pumps to reduce the risk of shoulder chondrolysis.

Post-Arthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL)

PAGCL is painful and debilitating condition characterized by the disappearance of articular cartilage due to the disintegration of the cartilage matrix and cells. The condition is typically accompanied by the progressive destruction of articular cartilage, resulting in joint narrowing and stiffness. Signs and symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • stiffness in the shoulder
  • clicking, popping, or grinding when the shoulder is in motion
  • limited range of motion
  • weakness of the shoulder