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Is a Drug Pump Right for You?

Cancer Pain

The treatment option that will work best for you depends on your type of pain, the severity of your pain, and your response to pain treatment.

A drug pump might be right for you if:

  • Your pain persists even though you are taking medication as directed
  • Your medication is causing side effects that are reducing the quality of life for you and your family
  • You have had a successful drug delivery trial

Trial

A trial helps assess whether the Medtronic SynchroMed® drug delivery system might be right for you. This is your opportunity to experience what drug delivery feels like and to find out if your pain responds to the therapy. If you achieve satisfactory pain relief or experience reduced side effects during the test, you may be a candidate for targeted drug delivery. With a trial, you‘ll have a reasonable idea of what your results might be before you have the device implanted and commit to long-term therapy.

The trial will take place in the hospital. After the trial, you and your doctor will discuss your experience and decide if an implantable targeted drug delivery system is right for you.

There are two screening test methods. Your doctor will recommend the method that makes the most sense for your situation and discuss the risks of the screening procedure with you.

Injection Method

This procedure consists of a single injection or multiple injections of a small amount of medication into the intrathecal space.

Generally, these are the steps your doctor may take during the injection method:

  • You will be placed on a surgical table.
  • You may be given medication to help you relax.
  • Your back will be cleaned with a solution.
  • Your heartbeat and breathing rate will be monitored.
  • A special needle filled with pain medication will be used. It will be placed in the fluid around your spinal cord and medication will be injected.
  • After the injection, you will be monitored in the hospital for up to 24 hours.

Continuous Infusion Method
This type of screening test takes place over a few days and closely resembles the therapy delivered by the implanted drug pump.

Generally, these are the steps your doctor may take during the continuous infusion method:

  • You will be placed on your stomach on a surgical table.
  • You may be given medication to help you relax.
  • Your back will be cleaned with a solution.
  • Your heartbeat and breathing rate will be monitored.
  • A small incision will be made in your back for the catheter.
  • The temporary catheter will be placed in your back and attached to an external pain pump.
  • A continuous flow of medication will then be delivered intrathecally to the fluid-filled space surrounding your spinal cord.
  • After receiving the medication, your response will be monitored.
  • You may be in the procedure room for up to two hours and then monitored for up to 24 hours. The rest of the test period may take place at home or in the hospital, depending on your doctor’s preference.

Complications can occur with the trial, including bleeding, infection, and drug side effects. The catheter also may need to be replaced. You should not undergo a trial if you have an active infection at the time of the test, have a body size too small to accommodate an implanted pump, or if you are allergic to the trial medication.


After the Screening Test

At the end of your screening test period, your doctor will:

  • Remove the temporary catheter (if your test involved continuous infusion)
  • Discuss your experience during the screening test
  • Ask you if you were satisfied with your experience
  • Help you determine if you should proceed with the implant procedure

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.