Benefits and Risks – Drug Pumps
Studies show that drug pumps (intrathecal drug delivery systems) may increase pain relief and comfort for people with severe chronic pain.1-5 Talk with your doctor about the benefits, risks, and responsibilities involved with using a drug pump for chronic pain.
Typically, people who have success with pumps:
- Experience significant pain relief1-5
- Use significantly smaller doses than oral medication1-5
- Have fewer side effects than those using oral medications1-5
- Are able to improve their activities of daily living1-5
In addition, with this treatment:
- Dosage may be adjusted for your comfort
- It is reversible – your doctor can remove the system
- Therapy can be tried for a short period of time before you receive a permanent implant
As with any pain treatment, side effects can occur.
Risks may include:
- Surgical complications, such as infection
- Drug side effects (symptoms of overdose or underdose)
- Blood (hematoma) or fluid (seroma) in the area where the pump is implanted
- Spinal fluid leaks resulting in headaches or other problems, and injury to the spinal cord
- A dislodged or blocked catheter
- The pump could stop working
- Inflammatory mass at the tip of the catheter
These complications could cause a reduction in or loss of pain relief and may require surgery to correct.
- Onofrio BM, Yaksh TL. Long-Term Pain Relief Produced by Intrathecal Infusion in 53 Patients. J Neurosurg 1990; 72: 200-209.
- Winkelmuller M, Winkelmuller W. Long-Term Effects of Continuous Intrathecal Opioid Treatment in Chronic Pain of Nonmalignant Etiology. J Neurosurg 1996; 85: 458-467.
- Paice JA, Penn RD, Shott S. Intraspinal Morphine for Chronic Pain: A Retrospective, Multicenter Study. J Pain Symptom Manage 1996; 11(2): 71-80.
- Lamer TJ. Treatment of Cancer-Related Pain: When Orally Administered Medications Fail. Mayo Clin Proc 1994; 69:473-480.
- Portenoy RK. Management of Common Opioid Side Effects During Long-Term Therapy of Cancer Pain. Ann Acad Med 1994; 23:160-170.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor.
Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Last updated: 22 Sep 2010