Some Spinal Implants Turning Pain Relief into Paralysis

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Medical malpractice attorneys alerted patients about a year ago of an FDA Class I recall of defective Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) leads due to twisting of parts during the surgical implantation. A year later, a Wall Street Journal analysis of adverse events reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that more than 100 recipients of spinal cord stimulators in the last few years, many of which manufactured by Medtronic, have experienced partial or permanent paralysis. The FDA’s database contains 48 reports of injury in 2012 and 58 reports in 2013 regarding spinal stimulators. According to a number of medical malpractice claims regarding partial and permanent paralysis, injuries occur when spinal cords are punctured and/or compressed by the device’s electrodes, which are surgically implanted in the epidural space, a narrow spinal cavity outside the spinal cord but inside the vertebral canal.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Blame Ill-Equipped Docs for Paralysis Events

Experts have discovered that a leading cause of paralysis events resulting from the implantation procedure is the lack of awareness that many physicians have of the risks of operating near the spinal cord. This lack of awareness is due, in large part, to the lack of training standards or practice guidelines surrounding the spinal stimulator devices. Medical societies and device manufacturers themselves often hold training seminars or classes for physicians planning on using a medical device that may require additional training. However, no such program exists for spinal stimulators manufactured by Medtronic, Boston Scientific, or St. Jude Medical.

According to Gilbert G. Fanicullo, the Director of Pain Medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, the procedure is seemingly simple and therefore attractive. “For someone who hasn’t done a lot of them, it looks like a fairly straightforward and simple procedure, and it attracts people who aren’t familiar with the risks.”

Spine stimulators are implanted by anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic spine surgeons and no one medical society has claimed responsibility for issuing the appropriate guide lines to help prevent injury as a result of this procedure.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Philadelphia and New Jersey

The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Messa & Associates are experienced at handling medical malpractice cases involving medical devices. Our extremely skilled team of medical malpractice lawyers and medical experts is dedicated to ensuring you receive proper compensation for your personal injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered partial or permanent paralysis after a spinal stimulator implantation procedure, contact the medical malpractice lawyers of Messa & Associates for a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry.

The information in this post was based on conclusions drawn by Joseph Walker, author of When Spine Implants Cause Paralysis, Who Is to Blame?, a Wall Street Journal business article.


Call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers of Messa & Associates today to discuss your case with a professional who has the knowledge to answer your questions or submit a free online inquiry.

Call, toll-free, 1-877-MessaLaw (637-7252), or submit a free online inquiry form.

About the Author:

Director of Marketing for Messa & Associates located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For all marketing or press release communications, contact

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  1. I do have partial paralysis in my cheek and right hand, and occasional severe pain when the wire to the battery gets entangled. My surgery was November 2013.

    I now live in Mass, but the surgery was done in North Carolina. Do you have NC rights?

  2. My son had a neuroscience stimulater that was inserted sometime in 2017-As of the end of last it looked like the device was bulging out of his skin and he was feeling a lot of pain and numbness for a few days- we finally got in touch. with the dr. after. many calls and he suggested that there was nothing wrong- finally he was sent for a pyelogram of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas- this was done on New Year’s Eve – We kept calling his office for about three weeks thereafter and was able to see the dr. February 15th and he wanted him to go for surgery that same night- they operated the next day and the dr. said that all of his pain, numbness and not being able to feel his legs – I am looking for a new neurosurgeon who takes his coverage-we do not want to go back to the same dr. because they never let me speak to the dr. until even though they knew that he was in a lot of pain-I went to the hospital and got his medical records and the myelogram showed that the leads had an anterior indentation of the spinal chord-

  3. I had nuero stimator implant in my back in middle of March 2019. Right after the surgery I started to have bad stomach pain, and bad constipated. I was throwing up for the first 2 week’s. They told me it might of been from the anesthesia. But I still had stomach pain and jolt’s going down my body for about three months. I contacted my sponsor for the device but they keep saying it couldn’t be the device, I do have text messages of those conversations. It was so bad I couldn’t lay down to sleep sleep sleep on my bed for months, and the jolt’s got worse to the point that I keep falling down. Still no one had answered for me. A month ago I got a very bad jolted that it dropped me to the ground and I lost my balance and within the month I lost the ability to walk. I’m in the hospital as we speak, but about to get transferred to in house physical therapy at Bacharach. The device was removed on Friday the 28th of June. My spine Cord and nerve was damage and I’m not walking, legs are weakness and numbness. I also been fighting disability for the last five years, I have to take it to district court,

    1. Luis – I’m so sorry about what you’ve had to endure as a result of this stimulator. Someone from my office will be in touch with you to discuss your potential claim. Thank you for your comment.

  4. I had a spinal cord stimulator done in texas date January 16 2015. Is there any kind of way you can help me if you cannot help me please send someone that can . This stimulator has really messed me up and all my nerves I do not have any sexual feelings I have problems with my hands drop in things On the side of my Side it’s real sore on my back I cannot lay on my back Because of the stimulator sticking out can someone help me with this case

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