Intrathecal Drug Delivery System Trials

Chronic pain can have significant negative effects on your life. It can keep you from participating in the activities you enjoy. It can impact your mental health. Fortunately, there are more options than ever available for the management of chronic pain. An intrathecal pump can offer targeted pain relief.

What Are Intrathecal Drug Delivery Systems?

Intrathecal drug delivery systems are pumps implanted to deliver pain or anti-spasm medications to a part of the spine. This spinal area delivers signals between the brain and an area of the body affected by pain. With these sorts of systems, medication is released directly into the spinal fluid so it can reach the nerves that are responsible for symptoms.

There are two types of intrathecal drug delivery pumps: fixed and variable rate. Fixed rate pumps are mechanical and release a steady amount of medication with the aid of a gas pressure chamber inside the device. Variable rate pumps are battery-operated and can be adjusted with a small computer.

These pumps are not a cure. However, it can be extremely useful when oral medications cause side effects that are hard to tolerate or if they have become less effective at controlling pain. An intrathecal drug delivery system is more effective and helps you avoid the side effects that may occur when you take medication orally or through intravenous infusions.

How Are Intrathecal Drug Delivery Systems Put in Place?

This procedure starts with a trial phase. Your doctor will place a catheter under your skin and into the intrathecal space around the spine. This will allow the release of medication into the fluid in that area. During the initial trial, the right dosage to give you pain relief is found. Once the proper level has been found, it is time to implant the infusion pump.

It may take several weeks to notice a significant reduction in your symptoms. The type or dose of medication you are getting can be adjusted at follow-up appointments.

After a pump is in place, it's important to take care during sports or any other strenuous activity. X-rays do not interfere with this equipment, but an MRI might. You can also safely engage in activities that include commercial flight and scuba diving less than 78 feet.

The system's medication is usually refilled every three to six months using a sterile needle. Pumps generally hold between 18 and 20 milliliters of medication and will signal if the amount in them goes below two milliliters.

Conditions Related to Intrathecal Drug Delivery Systems

Intrathecal drug delivery systems can provide relief for people with a wide range of conditions that cause chronic pain, including:

  • cancer.
  • spinal cord injuries.
  • complex regional pain syndrome.
  • neuropathy.
  • rheumatoid arthritis.
  • chronic pancreatitis.

In general, this therapy is tried when injected or oral medications have become ineffective or cause side effects that interfere with their use.

Request a Consultation

Do you have a condition that causes chronic pain? You have a range of options to reduce side effects of medications while suffering greater pain relief. Call us for a consultation. We can discuss your condition and the best pain management options for you.

Experiencing symptoms or want to find out more?