Spinal Drug Delivery Implants

A fully implantable spinal catheter and infusion pump is a special device that can be implanted in the body to deliver pain-relief medication right into the spinal fluid. This is a treatment method for those patients experiencing chronic, intractable pain that has not been alleviated through conservative forms of therapy.

The spinal catheter and infusion pump reduces a patient's reliance on oral medications because it can provide strong pain relievers directly to the pain receptors of the spinal cord to achieve substantial, fast respite. Although the dosage of medication used is much lower than when it is taken orally, due to the efficiency of the pump and its ability to target the problem area directly, symptoms can often be managed much more successfully. The medication delivery is ongoing so very little breakthrough discomfort occurs.

The pump will be programmed to dispense the medication at specific times of the day, and this schedule can be changed to better meet a patient's needs. The medication is stored within a reservoir in the pump and can readily be replenished by the doctor with an injection.

Good Candidates for Spinal Catheter and Infusion Pumps

A number of factors are considered when determining whether a patient is going to be a good candidate for treatment with a spinal catheter and infusion pump. This device is typically recommended for those patients who have not responded to other methods of treatment and are not good surgical candidates. These individuals generally have a substantial need for regular pain medication and have are no allergies to any of the medications that will be administered through the pump. Those patients who meet these criteria may be provided with a trial of the medications delivered with the spinal catheter and infusion pump, and if that proves successful, the implantation procedure will likely be suggested.

The Spinal Catheter and Infusion Pump Implantation Procedure

The spinal catheter and infusion pump requires implantation in the body, so it is inserted during a surgical procedure. The procedure typically takes three to four hours to complete. General anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation is necessary. After a small incision is made in the back, X-ray imaging guides the doctor to the precise location along the lower spine to which to attach the catheter. The catheter is inserted into the intrathecal space near the spinal cord and held in place using sutures.

Next, an incision is created in the lower abdomen. A pouch is then created in the skin of the abdomen to hold the infusion pump. After the reservoir is filled with pain medication and connected with the catheter, the incisions will be closed.

Recovery from a Spinal Catheter and Infusion Pump Implantation Procedure

The implantation of a spinal catheter and infusion pump is typically an outpatient procedure, but in some cases an overnight hospital stay is required. There may be some soreness or swelling around the incision sites, but the medication released by the spinal catheter and infusion pump is more than adequate to subdue any resultant discomfort. The medication begins flowing almost immediately after the surgery, so most patients experience significant pain relief right away.

Certain activities will be restricted initially after the surgery. For several weeks, patients should avoid lifting, stretching and bending as well as raising the arms above the head. The doctor will outline instructions for self care and the resumption of normal daily activities.

Risks of Spinal Catheter and Infusion Pump Implantation

While the implantation of a spinal catheter and infusion pump is considered safe and effective, there are risks involved in any form of surgery. The risks typically associated with this procedure include infection, bleeding, shifting or failure of the device and fluid buildup in the area of the pump, which could necessitate the insertion of a drain.


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