An intrathecal opioid pump is a surgically implanted device that delivers pain medication directly to the spinal cord. This intrathecal drug delivery system is placed under the skin of the abdomen and uses a small pump to transport medication to the spine through a catheter. This treatment option is typically recommended for patients who have not experienced adequate pain relief from conservative and interventional pain therapies. The goal of an intrathecal opioid pump is to provide patients with more control over their symptoms. Ultimately, symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose of pain medication in short intervals, reducing a patient’s pain and the possibility of adverse side effects. An opioid pump can decrease pain symptoms that are common with cancer pain, complex regional pain syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and failed back surgery syndrome.
An intrathecal opioid pump implantation is similar to the implantation process for spinal cord stimulation in that patients must go through a trial period before having their device permanently implanted. Before the procedure, patients are given anesthesia while the surgical site is prepped and sanitized. Once the patient is asleep, a small incision is made in the middle of the back, and the lamina of the vertebra is exposed. A small catheter is then placed above the spinal cord and secured with sutures. As soon as the catheter is in place, an extension catheter is passed from the spine, around the torso, to the small pump, which is implanted in the abdomen. When the pump is positioned correctly and sutured to a thick layer of stomach tissue, the physician will close the incision and send the patient to a separate room to recover.
After the procedure, patients must remain in a postoperative recovery area to have their blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration monitored. Patients are typically discharged the same day of the procedure. After surgery, the patient may be given medication to control their pain. Bending, twisting, lifting objects more than 5 pounds, raising the arms above the head, and sleeping on the stomach should be avoided for at least 6 to 8 weeks. An Orthopedic and Wellness physician will provide bathing and incision care instructions to ensure a quick and complication-free recovery. If the patient develops a rash, fever, swelling, redness, or pain, he or she should notify the physicians and nurses at Orthopedic and Wellness immediately.