Lawsuit Filed Over Use of Medtronic Infuse Without LT-Cage

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

An Oregon man has filed a product lawsuit against Medtronic over its Infuse bone graft product, alleging that the company promoted it for “off-label” uses, which caused severe complications when the bone growth agent was used without the approved LT-Cage.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Richard D. Alton, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

Alton was implanted with the bone growth stimulant in April 2010. However, it was used without an LT-Cage, which is used in most BMP bone graft surgeries to help guide bone growth.

The surgeon has indicated the off-label surgery was performed because the manufacturer failed to provide adequate information about the risk of problems with use of Medtronic Infuse without the LT-Cage.

According to allegations raised in the Medtronic Infuse lawsuit, the lack of the LT-Cage and use of the bone growth agent during a posterior approach to spinal fusion surgery caused excessive bone growth around the spine.

Following the surgery, Alton suffered severe pain in his lower back, which spread down his right leg to his right foot. Alton alleges that he has been left with constant pain that limits his everyday activities. His doctor is not certain that revision surgery will help.

Metronic Infuse BMP Off-Label Use

Medtronic Infuse is a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) that is applied to an absorbable collagen sponge placed within a device known as an LT-Cage, which is then implanted to encourage bone growth and fuse the gaps between vertebrae. 

Although the FDA only approved the Medtronic Infuse and LT-Cage for the limited spinal procedures involving a single-level anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), where the spine is approached from the front, the Medtronic Infuse has been widely used “off-label” for other types of spine fusion surgery, which have been linked to an increased risk of severe and painful complications caused by excessive or ectopic bone growth.

The lawsuit claims that it was Medtronic’s illegal promotion of Infuse for uses not approved by the FDA, known as “off-label” use, that led to Alton’s doctor implanting the Infuse without the LT-Cage. Alton’s doctor noted that the literature available at the time of Alton’s surgery suggested that Infuse was safe and effective. It was only after the surgery that new data was released suggesting that ectopic bone growth was a problem. His doctor lodged a complaint with Medtronic.

The allegations are not new. Investigations by the government have uncovered evidence that Medtronic intentionally mislead the medical community about the safety of Infuse.

Last year, a congressional investigation determined that Medtronic paid $210 million to study authors that failed to include data on Infuse complications in their reports. Those authors not only failed to disclose links to Medtronic, but the investigation also determined that Medtronic employees secretly edited and sometimes wrote parts of the studies before they were published.

Mounting Medtronic Infuse Lawsuits

Alton’s complaint joins a growing number of lawsuits over use of Medtronic Infuse that have been filed in state and federal courts throughout the country.

The plaintiffs allege that when the FDA approved the use of Infuse, it specifically stated that the Infuse and the LT-Cage must be used together as a system, and that the Infuse must not be used without the LT-Cage. However, Medtronic sells Infuse separately from the LT-Cage. The FDA specifically warned Medtronic not to promote the use of the Infuse off-label due to the risk of harm to patients, however, Medtronic allegedly paid spine surgery “opinion leaders” in the medical community to do just that.

Off-label use has accounted for the majority of Medtronic Infuse sales.

In 2008, the FDA issued an alert about the risks associated with such unapproved uses of Medtronic Infuse, after receiving a number of reports involving serious complications and deaths, often involving use in the cervical spine where the bone growth problems may impact the airway.

Alton’s lawsuit charges Medtronic with fraudulent misrepresentation, failure to warn, defective design, negligence, and breach of warranty. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Tags: , , ,


  1. Michael Reply

    I also from the medical records received today, show Infuse Bone Graft being used without the LT cage. It was used with a LDR RIO-A median cage. I have had the same issues as this Oregon man and now have some unknown tissue growth occurring at my L5/S1 area, where my ALIF was performed.

    I believe the off label use of the BMP Infuse Bone graft intended and according to FDA and Meditronics MUST be used with the LT cage, has caused my back to be worse than before, nerve issues, and other complications that have occurred and new complications now occurring. The tissue growth doubled in size from 2011-2012 and with the new sciatic pain, swelling on the right side of my spine, and other issues that have started within the past 6-8 months. I am nervous the unknown tissue growth has grown even larger and perhaps even doubled again. I am hoping it has not grown legs and is a tumor. Since BMP-2 has been linked in causing cysts and tumor in males.

    This is serious and I need legal help both for the off-label use of this product and medical malpractice.

  2. timothy Reply

    I have cages in my back an fusions done an in pain 24-7 . it didn’t help at all . ive tried to get them to do something else they said they cant cause the way it is if they try it will paralyze me. my back legs an feet hurt all the time. I cant stand to do anything can you do anything to help me.

  3. Jeff Reply

    I too have had a the INFUSE used in my back with the wrong cage. it was never tested to see if I was allergic to it. it was done from the front.. it grew a 1″ long bone into my spinal cord which had to be removed by a microneurosurgon. but not before damaging the nerves to my lower back and hips. It made me so very sick that I felt I was going to die every day for 2 years. Massive amounts of unexplained pain that was never there before the surgery. the use of a cane after the surgery continues when it was never needed before. this INFUSE is used right next to your spinal cord. that means it has access to ALL of your body through the spinal canal and can get into all the joints in your body! the unbearable continues to this day 5 years later with no end in sight. depression, no hope for the future and and pittance of a settlement is all they are offering. the only ones to come out of this is the lawyers and medtronic. Medtronics is ruining lives with this stuff. I just found out I have 2 more growths that need to be removed that are smashing my sciatic nerves. What else will grow? Cancer? another growth into the spinal cord leading to parallisis? don’t let medtronics win with this life destorying drug. make them pay dearly!

  4. Debbie Reply

    My sister is suffering terribly from infuse. She would love to have the name of the microsurgeon you mentioned to try to get some relief. If you have any other information you can offer about some pain relief, that would be extremely helpful too. Do you have any information about the lawsuit that you mentioned? Is it worth the fight?

  • Share Your Comments

  • Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

    Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.
  • NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Contact A Lawyer

Contact A Lawyer

Have A Potential Case Reviewed By An Attorney

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.