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Minimally Invasive Pain Institute

Pain Management Procedures

Intrathecal Pain Pump

Intrathecal drug delivery (otherwise known as a pain pump) is a method of giving medication directly to the spinal cord. Using this pain management approach to treatment, effective pain relief may be achieved through much smaller doses than is needed with oral medication, thus reducing the frequency of side effects associated with certain medications.

This pain treatment uses an implantable drug pump that is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen to deliver medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord. The medical procedure is as follows:

  1. A small incision is made on the skin in the middle of your back to expose the bony arch (lamina) of the vertebra.
  2. A catheter is placed in the intrathecal space, above the spinal cord. Once secured with sutures, an extension catheter is passed under the skin from the spine, around your torso to the abdomen where the pump will be implanted.
  3. Another incision is made – this time in the side of your abdomen below the waistline – to allow the surgeon to create a space between the skin and muscle layers for the pump.
  4. The extension catheter is connected to the pump and the pump is correctly positioned under the skin and sutured to the thick fascia layer overlying the stomach muscles.
  5. The incisions on the back and abdomen are closed and a dressing is applied.

How Intrathecal Drug Pumps Work to Treat Pain
An external control unit allows for the pump to be programmed to slowly release medication over a period of time. Or, to meet your changing needs, it can also be programmed to release different amounts of medication at different times of the day. There is a reservoir inside the pump that stores medication. When the reservoir is empty, your physician or nurse will provide a refill by inserting a needle through your skin and into the fill port on top of the reservoir. Intrathecal drug pumps do require a trial period to determine if it is effective for you before proceeding with a permanent implant.

Intrathecal drug pump therapy is one of many interventional pain treatment services available at our pain management center. Our interventional approach to treating acute and chronic pain means you have access to and are provided with a team of healthcare professionals who have your best interest in mind and the shared goal of helping you find effective pain relief for a better quality of life.

The physicians at the Minimally Invasive Pain Institute will help determine if intrathecal injection therapy is right for you and your acute or chronic pain condition. To find out if you are a good candidate, or for more information on this and other pain treatment services, read on or contact our pain management center. Together, we’ll help you find the relief you need for the quality of life you deserve.