Procedures

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Implanted Spinal Pump for the Management of Pain

What is an Implanted Spinal Pump?

An implanted pump is an Implanted Intrathecal Drug Delivery System that releases pain-relieving medication through a catheter directly to the intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord where pain signals travel, interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain. Intrathecal drug delivery uses an infusion system to manage severe persistent pain.

What is The Purpose of an Implanted Spinal Pump?

Research beginning in the 1970's and pioneered by workers in Australia identified that there are receptors in the spinal cord, which respond to opioids such as morphine and in turn reduce pain. This led to the development of technology, which allowed continuous infusion of very small doses of morphine to the spine. Over the past 35 years this technology has been used in many patients around the world. Sometimes morphine is mixed with other drugs. We refer to these as Implanted Intrathecal Drug Delivery Systems (IIDDS).

How is the Implantation of a Spinal Pump Performed?

Implanting a spinal pump (IIDDS) is a surgical procedure carried out in the operation room under x-ray control and deep sedation or general anaesthesia. The catheter is introduced into the liquid around the spinal cord and anchored at the back. It is then connected to the pump, which is implanted in the abdominal wall.

What Happens After The Procedure?

The capacity of these pumps is 20 or 40 millilitres. Depending on how much medication is used they will require refilling at intervals. Alterations in the dose of morphine must be considered on an ongoing basis. The refills are generally undertaken at the pain matrix premises by the specialist pain medicine physician. As a battery powers the technology, the system will need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years.

Is a (IIDDS) Spinal Pump appropriate for my pain?

In the past this technology was used widely for pain due to non-cancer causes. More recently when employed over a period of years, specific adverse effects have been identified. These relate to the catheter that is implanted in the spine, the medication that's infused from the pump and the effects of the medication on other functions of the body such as fluid balance and hormones. In more recent years this technology is reserved largely for cancer pain and for patients with spinal injuries and other causes of spasticity. There remains very small percentage of patients who may benefit from this technique.

Where can I get more information?

Consideration of an implanted spinal pump for the management of pain is a major undertaking and not to be taken lightly. The specialist pain medicine physicians at Pain Matrix will be able to guide you through the decision process.

Please make sure you have made follow-up arrangements with your Pain Specialist (either by phone or an in-person appointment).