An intrathecal pump relieves chronic pain. It uses small amounts of medicine applied directly to the intrathecal space (the area surrounding the spinal cord) to prevent pain signals from being perceived by the brain. Pump candidates include people for whom conservative treatments have failed and surgery is not likely to help.

Intrathecal Pain Pump

Patients needing intrathecal drug delivery can be divided into 2 broad categories. The first category includes patients suffering from terminal illnesses such as cancer. These individuals generally respond well to intrathecal opioids if they have been successfully managed on oral opioids first. However, this type of therapy is generally recommended for individuals with a life expectancy of greater than six months.

The second category of patients is those with chronic non-malignant pain, for example, failed low back surgery syndrome. One has to recognize that chronic non-malignant pain is complicated by physical, psychological, and behavioral factors.

Intrathecal drug delivery systems are implanted for chronic pain when conservative therapies have failed, surgery is ruled out, no active or untreated addiction exists, psychological testing indicates appropriateness for implantable therapy, medical contraindications have been eliminated (coagulopathies, infections), and a successful intrathecal drug trial has been completed.

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