INTRATHECAL MORPHINE INFUSION PUMP

There are different therapeutic options for dealing with the different types and causes of pain, but there is no treatment that is effective in all patients. In addition, the nature of the pain may change over time, so a treatment that was previously effective may now stop being so or cause more severe side effects. If the medication no longer relieves the pain as before or more severe side effects appear, it may be necessary to consider other treatments.

If several types of drugs have been administered in increasingly high doses and inacceptable side effects appear, other forms of administering the drug may have to be attempted.

For the drug to relieve pain it must reach the pain receptors in the brain, spinal cord, or the point where the pain is felt. The amount of drug that reaches these pain receptors, and therefore the degree of pain relief, will depend on the amount of drug administered (dose) and on how it is administered (administration method).

Common drug administration methods such as pills, patches and injections are distributed all around the body though the bloodstream, so only a very small amount actually reaches the pain receptors. Unfortunately, this is the case for morphine so most of it will act on the rest of the body, where it can produce side effects such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, or drowsiness.

Intrathecal pharmacological treatment uses a different method. Instead of filling up the body with medication so that an appropriate dose gets to the pain receptors, it concentrates a much smaller amount of morphine directly into the thecal space, a space in which the fluid around the spinal cord accumulates. The administrated morphine will thus be much closer to the point where it can relieve pain, so in many cases the resulting pain relief will be the same as before, or even better, but with much smaller doses. Sometimes the dosage can be reduced up to 99.6%! And the lower the dose, the fewer the side effects so the easier it will be to have the desired lifestyle.

Intrathecal pharmacological treatment involves the surgical insertion of an infusion pump below the skin of the abdominal wall and of a catheter through which the pump will administer the morphine to the thecal space. The pump has a reservoir in which the drug is stored, which must be periodically percutaneously refilled. It and the catheter work together as a system to accurately administer small doses of medication directly into the thecal space.

Intrathecal morphine administration pump
Intrathecal morphine administration pump
Intrathecal morphine administration pump
Intrathecal morphine administration pump

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

All treatments, without exception, involve a number of risks and benefits. Intrathecal morphine therapy involves the surgical insertion of a pump and a catheter, so surgical complications, such as infection or bleeding, may crop up. Once inserted, the catheter may leak or become blocked, or the pump may stop working, and further surgery would be required to solve the problem.

The pump does NOT cure, it is simply a device to administer a drug that relieves pain.

To refill the pump, a hypodermic needle will be inserted. The remaining medication will be removed and then a new drug refill will be administered. This procedure only takes a few minutes, and depending on the type of pump it can be months until it has to be refilled again.

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