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Minimally Invasive Pain Institute

Interventional Pain Management

Intrathecal Drug Pumps

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 using oral medications; thus, reducing the frequency of side effects associated with certain oral medications. The physicians at our interventional pain management center will help determine if intrathecal pump therapy is right for you and your chronic pain condition. Similar to a spinal cord stimulator, a pump trial is initiated to determine if this is an effective pain treatment option prior to a permanent implant. A single shot epidural injection or an intrathecal catheter can be placed during this trial period.

The Intrathecal Drug Pump Procedure
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. Under general anesthesia, a small incision is made on the skin in the middle of your back to expose the bony arch (lamina) of the vertebra.
  2. Using a spinal needle, a catheter is placed in the intrathecal space. Once secured with sutures, an extension catheter is passed under the skin from the spine, around your torso to the lower abdomen where the pump is usually placed.
  3. Another incision is made in your lower abdomen below the waistline to create a space between the skin and muscle layers to place 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.

An external control unit allows for the pump to be programmed to slowly release medication(s) continuously. To meet your changing needs, it can also be programmed to release different amounts of medication at different times of the day. A reservoir inside the pump stores the medication(s) selected by our pain physicians. When the reservoir is empty, our physician or medical staff will provide a refill by inserting a needle through your skin and into the fill port on top of the reservoir.

Intrathecal drug pump therapy is one of many interventional pain treatment services available at our pain management center. To find out if you are a good candidate, or for more information on this and other pain treatment services, please contact our pain management facility.