An opioid pain pump, or an intrathecal drug pump, is used in patients to treat chronic pain. It is a drug delivery method that delivers medication straight to the spinal cord. With this method, a small pump is surgically placed under the skin by the abdomen. Medication is delivered by a catheter to the pump and slowly released into the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the spinal cord. Typical medications for pain pumps include morphine and baclofen.
Since medication is being released directly into the CSF, a smaller medication dosage is needed compared to oral medication. A direct release into the CSF also makes the process more efficient, since this bypasses the process that the oral route requires. Having an opioid pain pump reduces the amount of oral medication administered, thus reducing the side effects associated with oral medication.
Who should consider pain pumps?
Patients who have failed traditional methods of opioid therapy for long-term treatment should consider a pain pump. Criteria for pain pump consideration includes: failure of conservative therapy, pain medication dependency for chronic pain, no allergies to medications used, no benefit from additional surgery, no psychological problems, and having a positive response to a pain pump trial.