Recent studies have linked the use of post-operative, intra-articular high volume shoulder pain pumps following arthroscopic shoulder surgery to a rare, life-altering condition known as Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis.
What is the problem?
Hundreds of individuals across the country use high volume pain pumps to cope with the pain that often follows arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Now a new study suggests that the pumps may deliver too much medicine causing a loss of cartilage that can lead to lifelong pain and suffering.
In 2006, a presentation at an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons meeting discussed a study that linked the use of intra-articular pain pumps in shoulder surgeries to a condition called Post arthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL).
PAGCL is one of the most common complications following shoulder surgeries. The aforementioned study reviewed 152 patients who had undergone anthroscopic shoulder surgeries and found that 12 of the patients developed PAGCL. In addition, the researchers found that all of the patients who developed the condition had been administered a shoulder pain pump filled with bupivacaine and epinephrine during their surgery. Furthermore, the only factor that the patients had in common was the use of a shoulder pain pump.
"All of a sudden we started seeing these patients come in with this mysterious and rare condition," says Dr. Charles Beck, an orthopedic surgeon and senior author of the study. "So, we decided to look back and see what they all had in common and what had changed. That's when we started looking closer at the pain pump and found that 63 percent of the patients who used one after surgery had all developed this horrible complication. Of course we stopped using them right away, but we felt obligated to do everything we could to help spread the word throughout the medical community."
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - Use of intra-articular continuous infusion pumps and chondrotoxicity
- The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine - Intra-Articular Pain Pumps Linked to Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis
Which Shoulder Pain Pumps are Affected?
The devices involved include those manufactured by Stryker Co., DJO Inc., I-Flow Co., BREG Inc. and several others. Most commonly used are:
- Stryker® PainPump 1®
- Stryker® PainPump 2®
- PainPump® Blockaid®
- On-Q® Painbuster®
- Donjoy® Pain Control Device
- Accufuser® Plus Pain Pump
What is Postarthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL)?
Postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis is a condition in which the cartilage located within the shoulder joint begins to deteriorate. This typically occurs after an individual has had surgery on the affected shoulder. The condition generally affects the glenohumeral joint, which is the joint at the end of the shoulder comprised of the socket of the shoulder blade and the ball of the arm bone. The cartilage between these two portions of the arm and shoulder is the site affected by postarthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis. As the cartilage begins to deteriorate due to the condition, the individual starts to experience the complications associated with the disorder.
Shoulder Pain Pump Lawsuits
Numerous lawsuits are pending against the companies that manufacture, market or distribute the pain pumps, including Stryker, DJO Inc., I-Flow Inc., BREG Inc. and others. Included among the many claims in the lawsuits are the allegations that the manufacturers failed to instruct or warn the U.S. medical community that the safety of using the pain pumps in the shoulder joint space had not been established or that the continuous injections of commonly used anesthetics may cause permanent injury.