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Intrathecal Pain Pump

Intraethecal pumps are a permanent source of pain relief for patients with chronic back pain that is not alleviated by other treatment measures. Patients who have intraethecal pumps can administer pain medication directly into the cerebrospinal fluid that flows through the spinal cord. The results are almost immediate and far less pain medication is required than when taken orally.

How the Intraethecal Pain Pump Works

An intraethecal pain pump is surgically implanted within the body. The pump holds concentrated pain medication and operates on an automatic release within the body. On a schedule determined by the doctor who implants the pump, it distributes a small amount of medication directly into the spinal fluid via a small tube (catheter) similar to the epidural that some women receive during labor and childbirth.

Intraethecal pain pumps are generally reserved for individuals with unrelenting severe back pain. However, it may also be used to deliver anti-spasmodic medications to individuals suffering from certain disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

Intraethecal Pump Placement

Before an intraethecal pump is placed inside the abdomen, a temporary catheter is placed in the spine during a trial period that tests the effectiveness of the medication and the patient’s response and side effects. If the trial period goes well, patients may be placed under general anesthesia, during which time the doctor will place the pump and permanent catheter in their respective places inside the abdomen and spine. Although pump placement is an inpatient procedure, most patients spend only one night in the hospital for observation.

For most patients, there is enough medication in the pump’s reservoir to last a few months. However, it will need to be refilled intermittently. Replenishing the medication is easy and fast. The skin is numbed locally before a fine needle is placed into the pump to refill it. The entire process takes just a few brief minutes and can be performed on a normal office lunch break.

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