INTRATHECAL DRUG PUMPS
Intrathecal drug pumps are round metal devices that are surgically implanted beneath the skin of the abdomen, giving a medication directly to your spinal cord. The pump delivers the medication through a catheter to the area around the spinal cord. As the drug is delivered directly to the pain area the symptoms can be controlled with much smaller dose than the needed oral medication. An Intrathecal drug pump works more efficiently than oral medications and has less side effects.
The pump is programmed to slowly release medication over a period of time and can be programmed to release different amounts of medication at different times. The prescription its stored in its memory and the doctor can review the information with the programmer. When the pump reservoir is empty, it can be refilled by a nurse which will insert the needle through the skin and fill the pump.
An Intrathecal drug pump is completely reversible, allowing the patient the opportunity to remove the pump if desired.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN INTRATHECAL DRUG PUMP IMPLANT PROCEDURE
Implantation of Intrathecal drug pump is done by neurosurgeons who specialize in pain management and spine disorders.
The procedure is done in two parts:
- Placing of the catheter in the intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord
- Placing the pump/reservoir in the abdomen
The implantation of an Intrathecal drug pump is done with general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the middle of the back where the bony arch of the vertebra is exposed. Once the catheter is in place the pump will be installed.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE SURGERY
The results depend on the underlying condition that is being treated but chronic pain patients experience a reduction in pain and improvement in their normal daily activities. Patients may experience reduction in rigidity and muscle spasm, and their typical oral medication will be reduced or eliminated. Medication refills on regular bases have to be scheduled where the effectiveness of the treatment will be assessed and the pump will be adjusted accordingly.