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Two Recent Studies Show Possible Dangers of Pain Pumps

Posted on May 27, 2010
Two recent studies by the scientific community confirm the dangers of utilizing pain pumps following surgery. Pain pumps are used to deliver a local anesthetic directly into the site where the surgery took place. Unfortunately, the results have left many victims with a condition called chondrolysis.

Many surgeons used pain pumps for this purpose, which was never approved by the FDA, post surgery. The catheter portion of the pump was inserted directly into the shoulder or knee joint following surgery to deliver the local anesthetic. However, months later, victims discovered that the cartilage surrounding the operated joint deteriorated.

The first study conducted was intended to, “study the effects of lidocaine, bupivacaine and ropivacaine on human chondrocyte viability and mitochondrial function in vitro and to characterize the type of cell death elicited following exposure.”

The study concluded that the introduction of lidocaine, bupivacaine and ropivacaine into cultured human chondrocytes caused delayed mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis.

The second study, an in vivo study, was intended to, “determine whether a single intra-articular injection of 0.5% bupivacaine results in chondrocyte morbidity and rapid chondrolysis.”  Researchers injected rats with a saline solution consisting of either preservative-free 0.5% bupivacaine or 0.6 mg/mL monoiodoacetate into the contralateral joint.

The results concluded that, “the in vivo effects of a single injection of intra-articular bupivacaine on articular cartilage are subtle.” The study also suggested that the results of the injection of monoiodoacetate may not be apparent on gross inspection and the potential toxic effects of bupivacaine could be clinically difficult to detect.

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