Intrathecal Pumps (ITPs) are devices used in the treatment of many chronic pain states. The pumps have shown effective in treating cancer pain, severe back pain, neuropathic pain, and muscle spasticity. ITPs are an automated piece of equipment that are programmed to deliver medication into the spinal fluid through a small catheter. This exciting pain relief technique has been shown to be both safe and effective.
The purpose of the pump is to interrupt pain signals that travel through the spinal cord. Pain signals which normally travel to the brain are lessened and pain relief is perceived. Medication is delivered into the intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord. The ITP delivers pain medication directly to the pain receptors in the spinal cord and smaller doses of medication are required to gain relief.
ITP implants are considered when oral pain medications and other methods of pain control have been exhausted or proven ineffective. Before an ITP is placed, an intrathecal medication trial is performed. Medication is placed in the spinal fluid. If pain relief is adequate, an ITP can be permanently placed to control your pain.
Placement of the ITP can be performed in an outpatient setting or in the hospital. The implantation of the device is done with local anesthesia and sedation (general anesthesia is usually not required). After a sterile scrub, local anesthesia is used to numb the needle entry location. Once the area is numb, a larger needle and catheter are placed into the intrathecal space using x-ray guidance.
Once the catheter is in the proper location, the pump is then connected and placed under the skin on the lower part of your abdomen. The catheter and pump are tunneled under your skin and all wounds are surgically closed.
The pump delivers pain medication (opiates, local anesthetics, and/or muscle relaxants) directly into the intrathecal space around the spinal cord. The medication reservoir in the pump is refilled periodically (every four to six weeks) by your pain physician by injecting the medication through your skin into the pump.
The entire procedure typically takes one to two hours and may be performed on an outpatient or in-patient basis. ITPs can be used to treat a variety of painful conditions. Nociceptive pain, or pain from tissue irritation can usually be effectively treated with uploads like morphine. Nociceptive pain transmission is interrupted at the spinal cord and pain relief is experienced.
Neuropathic pain, peripheral or central nervous system pain, tends to be receptive to treatments with local anesthetics more than opioids. Examples of neuropathic pain syndromes include CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome or reflex sympathetic dystrophy), cancer pain, phantom limb pain, post herpetic neuralgia (shingles), carpal tunnel syndrome, failed back surgery syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy (Diabetes Mellitus, vitamin deficiencies).
Spasmodic pain can also be successfully treated by ITPs. This type of pain is effectively treated with anti-spastic muscle-relaxing medications like Baclofen. Spasticity may be caused by impairment in the brain or spinal cord and is seen in several conditions, such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis (Rawlins 2004). Spasticity is an abnormal increase in muscle tone and tightening of the muscles.
For more information, please request a free consultantion through our website or by calling 800-578-8521. The staff and doctors of South Coast Specialty look forward to hearing from you.