Intrathecal Pump Implantation
An intrathecal pain pump implantation, or targeted drug delivery, is used to relieve chronic pain. The intrathecal pain pump implantation delivers small amounts of medication directly to the intrathecal space (area surrounding the spinal cord) to prevent pain signals from being perceived by the brain. Because the medication is delivered directly to where pain signals travel, intrathecal drug delivery offers many people dramatic pain management, with a dose smaller than would be required with oral medication. This results in fewer side effects associated with oral medication, such as sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting and constipation.
A trial will be done first to determine if intrathecal pump implantation would work for your pain management. If you achieve a good level of pain relief (50 percent or greater) you may be a candidate for a permanent pump.
Although uncommon, intrathecal pump implantation risks include infection, bleeding, itching, difficulty urinating, nausea, discomfort, drainage or swelling at the surgical site, severe headache, swelling in the extremities, increased pain, weakness or numbness or a disconnected catheter.
Animation: Intrathecal Pump Implantation
Benefits of Intrathecal Drug Delivery
- Reduces the need for oral medications
- Reduces the side effects associated with oral medications (brain fog, sleepiness, upset stomach, constipation)
- Trial is completed for four-seven days to determine effectiveness of therapy
- Outpatient procedure, little recovery time needed
- Reversible therapy can be removed at any time
- Patient controlled programmer allows for pre-set parameters to control breakthrough pain
Last reviewed July 2013 by APM's Medical Executive Committee.