Intrathecal Pain Pump

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Intrathecal Drug Delivery 

A pain pump, or intrathecal drug delivery, is designed to administer drugs directly to your spinal cord. Using a small pump that is surgically placed under your abdomen, medication travels through a catheter to the surrounding area of your spinal cord. Pain pumps are generally used when all other treatment options have failed to relieve persistent pain.

What is an Intrathecal Pain Pump?

Intrathecal pain pumps deliver small doses of medication directly into the spinal fluid. It consists of a small battery-powered, programmable pump that is implanted under the subcutaneous tissue of the abdomen and connected to a small catheter tunneled to the site of spinal entry. Sophisticated drug dose regimens can be programmed. Implanted pumps need to be refilled every one to three months.

Intrathecal Pain Pump Procedure

The procedure to place the intrathecal pain pump involves a surgical incision in the abdomen to place the pump, which is approximately the size of a hockey puck. A catheter is then placed into the intrathecal space, the area surrounding the spinal cord, and then connected to the pump. Pain medication is stored in a reservoir located inside the pump and it is programmed to slowly release the medication over time.

How Does the Intrathecal Pain Pump Work?

The area that surrounds your spinal cord is known as the intrathecal space. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fills this area, protecting the brain and spinal cord. The pain pump delivers medication directly into the CSF providing faster pain relief. The benefit of using a pain pump is that it delivers 1/300 the amount of strong pain medication directly to the source of pain, and does not cause the side affects of oral pain medication.

Who is a Candidate for Intrathecal Pain Delivery?

A patient becomes a candidate for an intrathecal pain pump after a trial phase is performed with successful results. The trial phase involves a temporary implant that administers pain medicine just outside the dura of the spinal cord in the epidural space. If the patient’s pain is relieved by at least 50% for two to three days with the trial implant, then it is likely that the patient will benefit from a permanent intrathecal pain delivery system.

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