The Procedure For Permanent Pain Pump Implantation


An intrathecal pain pump distributes medication directly to the fluid encased around the spinal cord. Medicating the pain receptors near the spine interrupts pain signals sent to the brain which reduces the perception of pain.

In the initial stage of the implantation, the individual is given local or general anesthesia. A surgeon then places a narrow tube, or catheter, into the fluid-filled area surrounding the spinal cord. A small pump is surgically implanted under the skin near the abdominal wall, and the pump and catheter are connected. Medication is injected into the pump by a physician; it is then sent from the pump to the catheter. The implantation process takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, and most people are able to return home the same day.

Morphine is one medication commonly used with a pain pump. Generally, a physician will inject the pump with medication on a monthly basis. The pumps are designed so that the timing of medication release can meet specific individualized needs. More than one medication can be added to the pump, if needed. This could include an opioid, non-opioid based medication or a local anesthetic to treat neuropathic pain. Morphine (an opioid) and ziconotide (a non-opioid based medication) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for continuous delivery in a pain pump to treat patients with chronic pain.

By targeting specific pain receptors, a substantially lower dose of medication can be used in a pain pump in comparison to taking pain medication orally. This reduces the risk of medication side effects. Though pain pumps do not eliminate pain completely, oftentimes, they offer a significant reduction in pain.

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