Shoulder Chondrolysis Linked to Pain Medication Infusion Pumps: Study

The use of infusion pain pumps to deliver Marcaine or lidocaine directly into the shoulder joint following arthroscopic surgery has been linked to the painful and debilitating loss of cartilage, known as post-arthrscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis, according to new research.

A study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, examined 375 intra-articular shoulder arthroscopic surgical procedures by an individual community orthopaedic surgeon. The research is believed to be the first study to examine factors that may be associated with shoulder chondrolysis from pain pumps.

The painful and debilitating loss of cartilage, known as chondrolysis, can cause decreased range of motion, pain, popping and grinding of the joint, and may ultimately lead to the need for a total joint replacement.

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According to the researchers, each case of documented shoulder chondroylsis after the arthroscopic shoulder surgeries was associated with the intra-articular infusion of a local anesthetic, either Marcaine (bupivcaine) or lidocaine, directly into the joint space. The risk of pain pump shoulder chondrolysis was found to be greater among younger patients, those who had surgery near the end of the study period and those who had one or more suture anchors placed in the glenoid.

Researchers recommended that surgeons avoid postoperative infusion of Marcaine or lidocaine into the joint to reduce the risk of shoulder chondrolysis.

In recent years, a number of shoulder chondrolysis lawsuits have been filed against the makers of the infusion pumps and the medications used in the devices. The complaints allege that the manufacturers failed to adequately research the risk of chondrolysis from the shoulder pumps when the medications are infused directly into the joint space or to warn about the potential risk for shoulder chondroylsis problems.


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