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Getting the Therapy
People worldwide use drug pumps for pain control. After you recover, you may be ready to resume more of the activities you enjoy.
If your current treatment isn't providing enough cancer pain relief, your doctor may recommend a screening test for a drug pump.
Depending on your condition and hospital, a wide variety of medical professionals may be part of your pain treatment team.
The surgery to implant the system takes approximately 1 to 3 hours and may require a hospital stay.
Learn some of the commonly asked questions about getting a drug pump.
The treatment option that will work best for you depends on your type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to pain treatment.
A drug pump might be right for you if:
After your doctor confirms that you are a candidate for a drug pump, he or she may decide to perform a screening test that will allow you to temporarily experience the therapy.
During this test, your doctor may choose one of two procedures:
Several medical professionals often work together to design your care plan and deliver your pain treatments. Your healthcare team may include:
Because no one knows your pain like you do, you play an important role in the cancer pain management process. Understanding your pain, communicating your needs, and knowing your options will empower you to take action with the help of your doctors, nurses, and other caregivers.
If you and your doctor decide to use a drug pump for cancer pain relief, you will need surgery to implant the system. Before the surgery, you and your doctor will decide where to position the pump for your comfort.
On the day of the surgery, you will receive local or general anaesthesia. Once you are "under" the anaesthetic, your surgeon will:
Once the pump and catheter are in place, the incisions are closed and the surgery is complete. The length of your hospital stay will vary depending on your doctor's preference and hospital procedures.
Your doctor can do a screening test to help predict whether a drug pump will provide cancer pain relief.
A screening test is a way for you and your doctor to evaluate your response to medication delivered into your spinal region to see if you are a candidate for a drug pump. If the pain caused by your cancer is measurably reduced, it means that the drug pump may work effectively for you.
This will vary depending upon the type of screening test your doctor feels would be best for you. The tests could take as little as a half day or as long as 4 days. Depending upon the type of screening test, you may undergo a procedure that takes approximately 1 to 2 hours and then need to stay in the hospital to be monitored after the procedure. Consult your doctor to understand the details for the type of screening test that your doctor thinks would be best for you.
Before you are given the trial injection or the catheter is placed, your doctor may numb a small region of your lower back with a local anaesthetic.
This will depend on your doctor and the severity of your cancer pain.
If the screening test has been successful and you go on to receive the implanted system, your pain relief may differ. Be sure to tell your doctor about the way you feel so that changes can be made that will give you the best pain relief possible.
If the screening test is successful, you and your doctor will discuss when the system should be implanted.
Typically, the implant is performed under general anaesthesia. However, you may wish to talk with your doctor about other options.
The length of your hospital stay will be determined by your doctor.
Times vary depending on individual doctor technique. On average, the procedure takes approximately 1 to 3 hours from start to finish. Talk with your doctor about the specifics and duration of your procedure.
There are two incisions. One is for the pump and is located in your abdomen. The size of the incision depends on the size of the device and could be up to 15 centimetres long. The other incision, made on your back, is 5 to 10 centimetres long.
No, because the incision needs to be made where the pump will be implanted to help properly anchor the device.
This depends on your specific condition and the results you received from the screening test. Your doctor will advise you of the recommended location.
You will begin receiving pain treatment as soon as your pump is filled with medication and the medication is delivered through the catheter to the specific site. However, depending on your medication, it may take several days before you experience benefits from your medication. You should discuss the use of your usual medication during this period with your doctor.
The medication in your pump needs to typically be refilled every 6 to 12 weeks, depending on your dosage. It is refilled by a needle injection in your doctor's office. During these appointments your doctor can adjust your dose of medication to address your pain relief needs.
Because your pump is placed near the surface of your skin for easy refill access, on occasion someone might notice a slight bump if you are wearing fitted clothes. However, depending on your size and shape, where the pump is implanted, and the size of your pump, it may not show under your clothes at all.
Yes. If your pump is programmable, your doctor can reprogram your dose. If your pump is not programmable, your doctor can change the concentration of drug in your pump, which then changes your dose.
Yes. The screening test is designed to determine whether the pump will help manage your pain. However, if you no longer need the pump or change your mind about the treatment, your doctor can turn off or remove the system.
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.