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Certain Spinal Implants May be Linked to Paralysis

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, over 100 patients have developed partial or permanent paralysis in recent years after receiving spinal-cord stimulator implants in their backs. A number of defective medical devices have been filed as a result.

A lot of the cases involved patients with spinal cords that were compressed or punctured by stimulator electrodes. These are usually inserted in the spine’s epidural space. The spinal stimulators that were involved came from different manufacturers, including Boston Scientific Corp. and Medtronic.

About 50,000 people in the US a year are implanted with a spinal cord simulator device to treat back pain and other issues. The simulator sends low electrical currents through wires up electrodes close to the spine. This is supposed to distract the brain from identifying pain signals.

Recently, researchers at Duke University Medical Center determined that out of every 100 patients with a spinal stimulator implant, some spinal nerve-root or cord damage had occurred resulting in injuries as diverse as paraplegia and muscle weakness.

The Wall Street Journal says that some doctors believe that inadequate training and guidelines for performing spinal cord implants could be causing some of the injuries. If so, then in Massachusetts, this could be reason for a Boston medical malpractice claim.

Still, others wonder if it is the medical devices that are a problem. Companies that make them say that they do disclose the risks, including making sure that these are stated in marketing collateral and product labeling.

A defective spinal stimulator may also cause electrical shock and other health issues, including burn injuries, bladder problems, and numbness. The faulty product may have to be replaced, resulting in yet another surgical procedure that comes with the risk of infection and other complications. Nerve damage can happen in the process, as can spinal fluid leakage.

In one defective medical device case against St. Jude Medical in 2011, which made the spinal stimulator in question, Deirdre Murphy contends that the company was negligent for selling the device to her surgeon without making sure he was properly trained. Murphy became paralyzed after the procedure.

Please contact our Boston defective medical device lawyers if you suspect that your injuries or health complications or that of a loved one was the result of a faulty medical device or dangerous drug. Our Massachusetts products liability law firm handles all kinds of medical injuries as well as Boston medical malpractice cases.

We know how devastating it can be to believe you are undergoing a medical procedure to get better only to see your health deteriorate as a result. There may be more than one party who should be held liable. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today and ask for your free case assessment. You want to make sure you are represented by someone who has the experience and resources to pursue your financial recovery.

When Spine Implants Cause Paralysis, Who Is to Blame?, Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2014

Electrical Nerve Stimulation for Chronic Pain, WebMD

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