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The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) states that millions suffer from chronic pain every year. The condition places a great burden on patients and their families, as sufferers often cannot continue with their normal activities. They may end up being unable to work, losing income and experiencing a general downward spiral in life.

Neurostimulation is an area of medical treatment that delivers mild electrical signals to the spine, blocking pain signals before they reach the brain. Though there are a number of different neurostimulators out there, the St. Jude Eon Mini is perhaps one of the most well known. Some of that notoriety comes from past defects in the products.

How Neurostimulators Work

The St. Jude Medical website describes the Eon Mini neurostimulator as “the world’s smallest rechargeable spinal cord stimulator.” Less than a half-inch in diameter, it’s used as a treatment for chronic pain in the trunk, limbs, and back. It’s the smallest device in the Eon family of implantable pulse generators (IPGs), and was created to “optimize success” in managing chronic pain.

Neurostimulators like the Eon Mini are implanted under the skin, and have thin wires, called “leads,” that connect to the epidural space near the spine. The device, via battery power, then sends out mild electrical impulses that reach the brain faster than regular pain signals do. The result is more of a tingling sensation rather than a painful one.

The Eon Mini generates the electrical impulses, and is usually implanted in the abdomen or upper buttock area where it shows only as a small bump. Patients can control the strength and location of the stimulation using a handheld device, adjusting for different activities such as walking, jogging, sitting, or sleeping. Unlike medications that circulate throughout the entire body, the neurostimulator addresses the specific areas of pain, and can provide relief when other treatments fail.

Problems with the Eon Mini Device

Though advertised as having the longest battery life approval in the market (purported to last up to ten years), the St. Jude Mini has failed prematurely, according to hundreds of patient reports. In May 2011, the company announced a recall of several models that were found to be potentially defective. They issued a “dear doctor” letter to physicians, stating that some of the devices had lost their ability to communicate or recharge.

Later, in July 2012, the company issued a second letter stating that the number of reports of problems with the device had increased to over 200. They had discovered that some of the devices developed a crack in the inner battery weld, which caused problems in communication and recharging. In some patients, these defects resulted in the devices overheating, causing first-and second-degree skin surface burns.

Injured Plaintiffs May Be Eligible to File a Lawsuit

The Eon Mini remains on the market as a chronic pain treatment device. St. Jude has stated it has fixed the battery issues. Still, those patients who were injured by problems with the device may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit in an attempt to recover damages.

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