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Surgery: What to Expect – Implanting the Drug Pump

Intrathecal drug delivery

Detail - Intrathecal drug delivery

If you and your doctor decide to use a drug pump as part of your pain management plan, you will need a 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 anesthesia. Once you are “under” the anesthetic, your surgeon will:

  • Make an incision and form a pocket to hold the pump (usually in the abdomen)
  • Create a second incision on your back for the catheter
  • Tunnel the catheter
  • Position the pump and catheter

Once the pump and catheter are in place, the incisions are closed and the surgery is complete. The surgery takes approximately 1 to 3 hours. The length of your hospital stay will vary depending on your doctor’s preference and hospital procedures.

The implanted pump and catheter are surgically placed under the skin. Surgical complications are possible and include infection, spinal fluid leak, and headache. You should not undergo the implant procedure if you have an active infection at the time scheduled for implant.

Once the infusion system is implanted, device complications may occur which may require surgery to resolve. Drug overdose or underdose can result because of these complications and have serious and even life-threatening adverse effects. Possible complications include the catheter or pump moving within the body or wearing through the skin. The catheter could leak, tear, kink, or become disconnected. The pump could stop because the battery has run out or because of failure of another part of the infusion system. Additionally inflammatory masses have been reported at the tip of the catheter which may lead to complications, including paralysis.

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: 18 Feb 2013

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