Intrathecal drug delivery, or “pain pump,” is a method of giving medication directly to your spinal cord.
The system uses a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen and delivers medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord – similar to an epidural that women may have during childbirth. A pain pump may be a treatment option if all other traditional methods have failed to relieve your long-term symptoms. Because the medication is delivered directly to the spinal cord, your symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed with oral medication.
The goal of a drug pump is to better control your symptoms and to reduce oral medications; thus reducing their associated side effects. The pump is programmed to slowly release medication over a period of time. It can also be programmed to release different amounts of medication at different times of the day, depending on your changing needs. The pump stores the information about your prescription in its memory, and your doctor can easily review this information with the programmer. When the reservoir is empty, the doctor or nurse refills the pump by inserting a needle through your skin and into the fill port on top of the reservoir.