Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"For years, spine surgeons praised Medtronic’s Infuse in helping to speed healing and reduce pain after spinal fusion surgeries"

That's the lede in the Strib's article on the latest development in Infuse scandal.  Inexplicably, the article fails to mention that the chair of spine surgery at the U, David Polly, was one of those surgeons, and that he was investigated by the Senate Finance Committee for failing to disclose $1.14 million in payments from Medtronic.  You can read about it in the New York Times, or in back issues of the Strib, when Janet Moore had the device industry beat. (See this, or this, or this.)


  1. Oh man, what a whitewash! The problem goes WAY deeper than “doubts” that Medtronic’s artificial bone product makes for “substantially” better back surgery results than the traditional method of bone grafting with tiny chips off the patient’s own pelvic bone.

    The problem is NO advantage … plus a potentially doubled risk of cancer, because this stuff may stimulate the growth of any small early-stage tumor in other parts of your body. Plus the risk of “inappropriate bone growth” in those funny little spaces where your major nerves come out of your spine … which can condemn you to a life of chronic pain. And, if the surgeon did this in your neck rather than your low back, just might kill you.

    John Farber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has done a terrific job of dragging this scandal into the light (and not sparing the prominent Wisconsin med school profs involved). Here’s his coverage of the study released today:


    And here’s his portrait of what that pesky ectopic bone growth can lead to:


    Working with patients in the workers’ comp system, I have seen far too many succumb to something called “failed back surgery syndrome” that has become epidemic in recent years. Until I read Fauber’s articles, I didn’t realize what I was seeing. If a robber in a dark alley did this to you, he would doubtless go to prison for the next forty years for “heinous battery” or attempted murder. If a wealthy spine surgeon in cahoots with a billionaire corporation is the perpetrator, the best you can do is sue his insurance company I guess. But it’s no less a crime.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. I am one of the victims in the above link you posted. I will suffer in pain until I die. They should use the RICO laws and arrest these criminal company chiefs and Doctors.


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