Intrathecal Pump Implant

An Intrathecal Pump Implant is performed to relieve chronic pain. A pump is used for patients where conservative methods of treatment have failed and surgery is not a likely option. The intrathecal pump system consists of three parts: the receiver, external controller and catheter. The pump sends small portions of medicine directly to intrathecal space near the spinal cord to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.

A local anesthetic is used to numb the skin. Then a catheter is inserted into the intrathecal space through a needle and connected to a temporary pump. The temporary pump will be used on a trial basis to verify the system will help the patient. If the patient feel pain relief, a permanent pump could be implanted. Implantation is usually done under general anesthesia. The temporary catheter is removed and through a needle a permanent one is implanted. The pump is implanted under the skin in the abdomen and connected to the catheter. The pump receiver then controls the medication to block the pain. The battery of the pump usually lasts from three to five years and then new pump could be replaced. The amount of medication is programmed with an external unit. The patient must visit the physician regularly to refill the pump. Over time a catheter may require replacement with another one because of damage or moving. After implantation the patient may feel discomfort at the place of incision for several days.


Possible side effects could be compared with common injection side effects, i.e. allergic reaction, bacterial infection, or bleeding in seldom cases. Steroids side effects are facial, eye, arms, or legs swelling and elevated sugars for diabetic patients.

It is very important that the patient inform the physician about pregnancy or if he/she is taking blood thinning medication.