Navigate Up

Intrathecal Drug Pump Implantation

An intrathecal pump is a device that delivers small quantities of pain medication directly to the spinal fluid. When delivered in small doses, pain medications may minimize the side effects often experienced with larger oral doses of the same medications.

A pump can lessen the pain associated with failed back surgery, cancer, or nerve pain, as well as reduce spasticity, or muscle rigidity, in patients with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain injury, or spinal cord injury. A trial intrathecal injection or a temporary intrathecal pump is usually performed to determine whether the medication is effective and a permanent pump is appropriate.

The intrathecal pump itself consists of metal pump that stores and delivers the medication, and a catheter that delivers the medication to the space around the spinal cord. The pump can be programmed to slowly release the medication over a period of time, or to deliver the medication at different times of the day.

To implant the device, our neurosurgeons make a small incision in the back to place the catheter in the affected area of the spine. Then an extension catheter is passed under the skin from the spine around the torso to the abdomen where the pump is implanted.

Chronic pain patients may experience a reduction in pain as well as an overall improvement in activities of daily living, and patients with spasticity may see a reduction in rigidity and muscle spasms. Oral medications and their side effects are greatly reduced because the medication in the pump is delivered directly to the spinal cord, so much smaller doses are needed.

CONDITIONS WE TREAT

View all conditions >

 

 

 
CONTACT US

How can we help you?

Schedule an
appointment >

Ask a question >

Request our expert
opinion >

 

Phone Numbers:

1-877-986-9862
(within the U.S.)

01-877-320-8762
(International)

 
  • Meet the Surgeons Button
  • Patient Stories button
  • Pediatric Patients Button
  • International patients button
  • Legacy of Innovation Button

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com