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Patients left wheelchair-bound after medical injections

Cairns man Brad Wszola has been left a paraplegic after having a nerve root steroid injection administered to relieve pain in his shoulder blade.
Cairns man Brad Wszola has been left a paraplegic after having a nerve root steroid injection administered to relieve pain in his shoulder blade.

TWO Queenslanders became paraplegic and a third was left with incomplete tetraplegia almost immediately after each had one injection of steroids meant to relieve their pain.

Former personal assistant Jane Watson, 61, of Brisbane, and Cairns accountant Brad Wszola, 45, are dealing with life in a wheelchair as a result of epidural steroid injections.

Graeme Foster, 47, of Brisbane, can no longer work as an electrician and has to do a desk job, after suffering a spinal stroke from a guided nerve root injection.

He immediately had paralysis in his left leg and both arms and has incomplete tetraplegia.

Ms Watson and Mr Foster had the steroid injections at different radiology practices in Brisbane in the same week in 2014, and Mr Wszola was injected with the same steroid in Cairns in 2016.

Mr Foster is suing for $5million the radiologist who injected him and law firm Maurice Blackburn is investigating the cases of Ms Watson and Mr Wszola.

The trio all say they have much more pain than before they had the injections.

They are speaking out to warn others of the rare but real risks of serious and lifelong complications, including paraplegia, from nerve root injections involving certain steroids.

"If we can stop anyone else having this happen to them, it will be worth it," Mr Foster said.

Margaret Brain, of Maurice Blackburn, said an injectable steroid hormone commonly known as betamethasone or Celestone had been shown to have been used in each of the cases. It is used to treat pain and inflammation in the neck and back.

"This drug has been linked in a small but significant number of cases to extremely serious complications, including temporary and permanent paralysis,'' Ms Brain said.

"It is thought that particles in the injectables can block small arteries in the body, denying blood supply to the spine, thus causing a stroke in the patient."

Ms Brain said it was concerning that the drug was still being used despite warnings.

"This is particularly the case as an alternative steroid preparation, dexamethasone, is freely available and has been shown to be equally as effective,'' she aid.

There are no published reports that dexamethasone, a non-particulate steroid, has caused stroke.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists

president Dr Greg Slater said nerve root injections with particulate steroids were still common in Australia, but permanent paralysis was a rare complication.

"Mostly the injection works well, but not all the time,'' Dr Slater said.

He was aware of "a small number'' of other Australian and overseas patients who had experienced paraplegia or tetraplegia from nerve root injections with particulate steroids.

Topics:  editors picks law suits medical paraplegia queensland


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