Manage chronic pain with the Intrathecal Pump implantation.
Chronic pain management often includes several attempts at easing or eliminating discomfort. Initial efforts often combine some type of physical therapy with the use of pain and anti-inflammatory medications, usually taken in capsule or tablet form.
- Some patients benefit from a more precise and direct way
- Intrathecal pain pump implantation is a method of targeted delivery
- It may provide relief by giving medication directly to the spinal cord
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How it Works
An intrathecal pump delivers medication to the intrathecal space, an area around the spinal cord where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. CSF is a protective fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. Problems with this fluid sometimes result in spine pain. The purpose of an intrathecal pump is directly deliver medication to the intrathecal space at a controlled pace into the CSF to change how the brain perceives pain.
The programmable pump will be set up to deliver medication at specific times of the day after it is inserted. It stores data on the patient’s prescription that can accessed and reviewed. Adjustments to the frequency of medication delivery can also be made as necessary. The device also has pre-set parameters to help control breakthrough pain that occurs when doses of medication start to wear off. When the pump is empty, the reservoir is filled by inserting a needle through the skin to reach it.
The pump may benefit patients with chronic pain not getting better with conservative (non-surgical) methods. It may also be recommended for individuals who have experienced failed back surgery syndrome or those who would not likely benefit from surgery. The intrathecal pump may help manage pain related to:
- Severe spine pain
- Cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis
- Cancer-related pain
- Peripheral nerve injuries
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
The Trial Period
Prior to having what can be a permanent intrathecal pump inserted, patients can use a temporary version of the device during a trail period that may last up to a week. Preferred candidates for the procedure are usually those who report a reduction in pain of at least 50 percent. Screening to determine if the pump might be beneficial may also include a lumbar puncture where a single shot is delivered into the intrathecal space or multiple injections via catheter over several days.
Placing the Pump
During the procedure to insert the device, the pump with the medication is placed in the abdomen. It is attached to a catheter that goes to the intrathecal space. The surgery is performed with anesthesia and requires two small incisions in the back and abdomen. Since it’s a reversible procedure, the device can be safely removed if it’s not providing sufficient relief. Normal activities can be resumed within a few weeks after surgery.
Results with the intrathecal pump will vary based on the underlying cause of the pain the device is meant to treat. Patients who benefit from the procedure may experience fewer muscle spasms, a general reduction in pain, and a better ability to go about daily activities. There may also be less of a reliance on oral medication as discomfort subsides. Side effects and risks are minimal.