Spinal drug delivery systems, otherwise known as intrathecal pumps (or more simply pumps), are implanted devices that deliver medications directly into the spinal fluid. Before undergoing a permanent implant of this device, patients must undergo a successful trial. Once the permanent pump is in place, patients will come to the office every 30-90 days for refills of the implanted device (depending on the medication and dosage).
The pumps major advantage is that by delivering medication directly into the spinal fluid, the patient receives a much lower dosage than is required orally and this is associated with lower side effects and improved pain control for many patients. These devices can be used for more severe and chronic forms of pain that do not respond to more conservative treatment. These pumps can also deliver spinal medications which helps to reduce the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, or spinal cord injury. They are also extremely helpful in treating cancer pain.