Intrathecal Pain Pump

Pain is an unpleasant sensation caused by illness or injury which can have a negative impact on a person's quality of life. Constant pain persisting for long periods of time is referred to as chronic pain. Intrathecal drug delivery is one of the modalities for the treatment of chronic pain wherein medication is administered directly to a target site by means of implants.

An Intrathecal drug delivery system is considered when other modes of pain management are ineffective. They are effective in treating cancer pain, severe back pain, neuropathic pain, muscle spasticity and post-operative pain. In intrathecal drug delivery system, a small pump is implanted into the subcutaneous tissue that delivers pain medication directly to the spinal cord which is involved in the transmission of pain signals. As the medication is delivered directly to the targeted area, smaller doses of medication are required to provide relief.

The drug pump is surgically implanted beneath the skin of your abdomen. Then the pump is connected to the catheter placed in the intrathecal space (inside the layers of the spinal cord itself) or epidural space (just outside the spinal cord). The catheter carries pain medication from the pump to the spinal cord and nerves.

Before the placement of a permanent pump, you must undergo a trial to determine the efficacy of the treatment for you.

Risks associated with a drug pump implant are minimal. However, dysfunctioning of the catheter or the pump might require a second surgical procedure for repair.

Some of the risks associated with intrathecal drug pumps include:

  • Inflammatory granuloma (an infection at the tip of the catheter)
  • Catheter can kink up or disconnect
  • Spinal fluid leak
  • Headache
  • Side effects from medications

Intrathecal pain pumps can improve the quality of life of most people with severe pain.