To the Editor:
A letter in the Fall 2000 APSF Newsletter by Dr. William Mazzei purports to report on a new prone positioner felt to be superior to currently available models.
I would like to point out that Dr. Mazzei is the inventor of the product he so prominently endorses. He states he has used it in 56 cases without incident. He alludes to the fact that prone position injuries are very common with currently available prone positioners. I manufacture the Voss Prone Positionerª which has been used in excess of 600,000 cases.
The only reported complication was in a case done by a resident on her first laminectomy. She admitted that after the patient was positioned at the beginning of the case, she was left unsupervised for the balance of the procedure. She also stated that the table position was changed more than once and that she did not check the patient’s position at any time during the case. As the table position was changed, the patient’ s head shifted placing one eye in contact with the foam positioner.
The Voss Prone Positionerª is designed to allow the physician to easily slip a finger between the patient’s skin and the device to confirm proper positioning and to maintain blood flow to the skin. The Prone Positionerª has been used regularly for over 14 years with only the one complication that was determined not to be attributable to the device.
I’m not sure if the Editor was aware of Dr. Mazzei’s connection to the company that manufactures his device but it is inappropriate to publish a “Letter to the Editor” that could be interpreted as an independent study. In view of his relationship and his financial ties to the manufacturer, any objective reporting by the author is not possible.
It is exactly this kind of dishonest reporting cloaked as an independent evaluation that tarnishes the reputation of all physicians in the eyes of our patients and colleagues.
I would appreciate some response to these allegations in your next issue if for no other reason than to establish your lack of knowledge of these circumstances and to re-establish your independence as an editor/publisher.
Gene A. Voss, MD
San Antonio, TX
After publication of that letter, Dr. Mazzei did contact this publication and volunteer that he does have a financial relationship with the product described in the letter. The Editor acknowledges that this fact should have been discovered and disclosed with the original letter. The recent intense interest in postoperative visual impairment often associated with the prone position (see Page 59) provoked an exception to the usual APSF Newsletter policy of attempting to avoid specific product brand-name references, positive or negative, in most cases.