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What Is a Drug Pump?

Chronic Pain

Targeted drug delivery is a proven, safe, and effective therapy for managing chronic pain.1-4 Unlike medications that circulate throughout your body in your bloodstream, targeted drug delivery releases medication directly into the fluid surrounding your spinal cord, which may lead to fewer or more tolerable drug side effects.

SynchroMed II Drug Pump

SynchroMed II Drug Pump

About the Drug Delivery System 

The system consists of a pump and catheter, both of which are surgically placed under the skin. The pump is a round device that stores and delivers pain medication. It is placed in your abdomen. The catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is inserted into your spine and connected to the pump. 

The pump sends the medication through the catheter to the spinal area. You return to your doctor’s office for more medicine when the pump needs to be refilled. 

How It Works

The pump releases prescribed amounts of pain medication through the catheter directly to the fluid around the spinal cord, in an area called the intrathecal space. The pain medication approved for use in the pump include morphine sulfate and ziconotide.

Many people experience significant improvements in their pain symptoms and quality of life after receiving Medtronic targeted drug delivery. However, realistic expectations are essential to satisfaction with any pain treatment. Targeted drug delivery cannot eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but it may help you to better manage your pain.


Our Products 

Medtronic offers the SynchroMed® II drug pump system for managing chronic pain. The system includes:

  • Programmable drug pump – A battery-powered device that stores and dispenses medicine according to instructions programmed by your doctor
  • Catheter – A thin, flexible tube that delivers pain medication from the pump to the fluid around the spinal cord
  • Physician programmer – A computer at your doctor’s office that lets your doctor tailor your therapy to best meet your needs
  • Personal therapy manager – An optional handheld device that gives you more control over your pain by allowing you to receive an extra dose of morphine from your pump when needed and within physician-set limits

If a drug pump is an option for you, your doctor will work with you to select the pain treatment system that is most appropriate for your needs. 



Deer T, Chapple I, Classen A, et al. Intrathecal drug delivery for treatment of chronic low back pain: report from the National Outcomes Registry for Low Back Pain. Pain Med. 2004;5:6–13.


Duarte RV, Raphael JH, Sparkes E, Southall JL, LeMarchand K, Ashford RL. Long-term intrathecal drug administration for chronic nonmalignant pain. J Neurosurg Anesthesiol. 2012;24:63-70.


Ellis DJ, Dissanayake S, McGuire D, et al. Continuous intrathecal infusion of ziconotide for treatment of chronic malignant and nonmalignant pain over 12 months: a prospective, open-label study. Neuromodulation. 2008;11:40-49.


Hamza M, Doleys D, Wells M, et al. Prospective study of 3-year follow-up of lowdose intrathecal opioids in the management of chronic nonmalignant pain. Pain Med. 2012;13:1304-1313.

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.