Intrathecal Pain Pump
FAQ’s on Intrathecal Pump Implants in Phoenix AZ
An intrathecal pain pump is a surgically implanted device that delivers pain medication to the spinal cord. The implanted system uses a small pump placed under the skin of the abdominal region. This unit delivers medication to the spinal cord via a tiny catheter.
Who is a candidate for the intrathecal pump?
The intrathecal pain pump is an option for patients who have not experienced any relief with other treatment methods. You may be a candidate if you:
- Have failed on conservative therapies.
- Are dependent on pain medication.
- Are not a candidate for additional surgery.
- Have no serious medical conditions.
- Are not allergic to any pain medications used in the pump.
- Had a positive experience with the trial dose.
Why is the intrathecal pain pump better than oral medications?
The goal of the intrathecal pain pump is to control the patient’s symptoms while reducing the unwanted side effects of oral medications. This pump works more efficiently than oral medications, because it delivers medicine directly into the cerebrospinal fluid and bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. The potency of the intrathecal medication is around 200 times that which is taken orally.
What does the pump look like?
The intrathecal pump is a small, round metal device that is surgically implanted below the skin of the abdomen. A catheter (small plastic tube) runs from the pump to the intrathecal space, which is a sac that surrounds the spinal cord. The pump acts as a reservoir, holding the medication, and the catheter delivers the medication to the targeted site.
How is the medication given?
The intrathecal pain pump is programed to slowly release medicine over a period of time. The pump will release varying amounts of medication at different times of the day, which accommodate the patient’s changing needs. The pump is a small computer that stores information in memory, so the doctor can review your medicine usage.
What happens when the pump runs out of medication?
The intrathecal pump contains a reservoir. When this is empty, a nurse can refill the reservoir by inserting a needle into the skin and filling the unit.
What happens during the pump trial?
Whether or not an implantable drug pump is a beneficial option for your pain management depends on the trial run. Before the pump is permanently implanted, the pain specialist will have you undergo a trial. The purpose of the trial is to determine if the device decreases your pain. This is done by one of the following measures:
- A single dose of medication given through a spinal injection.
- Multiple injections given over the course of several days by catheter or lumbar puncture.
- A full trial involves a catheter being placed near the spinal cord, and then, connected to an external pump.
What are the risks and complications associated with the intrathecal pump?
As with any minimally invasive procedure, there are a few risks associated with the pain pump. These include blocked catheter, dislodged catheter, infection, bleeding, cerebrospinal fluid leak, blood vessel injury, and nerve damage.
What medications are used?
Typically, an opioid alone is effective for nociceptive pain disorders. The addition of other agents (clonidine and local anesthetics) is necessary for neuropathic pain syndromes. Ziconotide is a new N-type calcium channel blocker that is useful in refractory pain syndromes.
What side effects are associated with the medication?
Because the medication is usually an opioid agent, the side effects include respiratory depression, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, and itching. For other medicines, side effects include depression, anxiety, low blood pressure, and headache.