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Intrathecal Pump

Intrathecal Pump Trial and Permanent Implant

An intrathecal pain pump is a device used to treat chronic pain. When your condition doesn’t respond to conservative treatment therapies, the system of intrathecal pain pumps is useful. This method is used to deliver medications directly to the spinal cord. A pain pump is placed under the skin of the abdomen to deliver the targeted dose of medicine into the spinal cord.

    Before the intrathecal pump is planted, a trial is conducted to check if the pump is effective for the patient. In the results of the trial, if the pain is reduced by 50% or more, then the pump is implanted.

    With intrathecal therapy, the dosage of medication is a lot lower than oral medication, reducing the risk of side effects and serving as a more effective form of pain relief. The medications administered through these pumps are typically baclofen, clonidine, ziconotide, or opioids.

    An intrathecal pump typically lasts for 5-10 years. The surgery to replace the pump is the same as the implantation procedure.

    At Pro Spine & Pain, we regularly insert intrathecal pumps at all of our practices. Our physicians are board certified and specialize in pain management and/or anesthesiology, having thousands of hours of experience performing this procedure.

    Before this surgery, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and may send you for advanced diagnostic imaging to ensure this is the best treatment for your condition.

    Who Can Benefit From an Intrathecal Pain Pump?

    Implantable drug delivery systems are one of the effective methods to treat chronic pain and other conditions. Additionally, people with certain neurologic illnesses can also take the benefits to relieve chronic muscle spasms. Most people with any of the following conditions can opt for the pain pump:

    • Pain occurred from cancer
    • Arachnoiditis
    • Muscle spasms throughout the body
    • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
    • Radiculopathy
    • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)
    • Chronic pancreatitis

    How is an Intrathecal Pain Pump Implanted?

    Intrathecal pain pumps are implanted in two phases – trial and permanent. Your doctor will do a trial first before implanting the pump permanently. In the trial, a patient is given an injection of a small dose of medicine. It is done quickly and helps the doctor find the best medicine for your pain. If the pain is decreased by at least 50%, your doctor will schedule a pump implantation.

    The procedure of pump implantation is initiated after giving you general anesthesia. It usually takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete the pump implantation procedure. During the procedure, a catheter and a pump are placed in the back and under the abdomen skin, respectively. The medication flow starts as soon as the catheter is connected to the pump.


    What Is an Intrathecal Pain Pump?

    It is a medical device that delivers medication directly to the spinal cord to treat chronic back pain.

    Are There Any Side Effects and Risks Associated With Pain Pump Implantation?

    Side effects of the procedure may include bleeding, infection, difficulty urination, increased pain, weakness, or swelling.

    Is the Intrathecal Pain Pump Safe?

    Yes, implanting an intrathecal pain pump is a safe and effective procedure.

    Is a Pain Pump for Back Pain Better Than Pain Pills?

    Often, a medication pump is seen as more effective than oral medication. This is because this method delivers medication directly to the spine, allowing for a lower dose than you would otherwise take with oral medication.

    What Is an Intrathecal Pump Used For?

    Often, this pump is used to treat chronic pain or spasticity that cannot be treated with a conservative approach.

    How Long Does an Intrathecal Drug Pump Last?

    On average, an intrathecal drug pump can last 5-10 years.

    Updated on Jul 10, 2024 by Dr. Thomas Stauss (Pain Management) of Pro Spine & Pain

    Thomas Stauss, MD

    Thomas Stauss, MD, completed both his undergraduate and medical studies at the esteemed University of Wisconsin in Madison. Dr. Stauss values having access to a wide array of cutting-edge treatments, ensuring effective relief for his patients' discomfort and a significant enhancement in their quality of life. Dr. Stauss’s primary objective is to uphold the dignity of each patient while delivering ethical and professional services.

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