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Getting the Therapy
A baclofen pump is surgically implanted and delivers medication around the clock.
Your doctor will consider many factors including your symptoms, goals, body mass, and results of a screening test.
With intrathecal baclofen therapy a variety of healthcare providers will work together to help manage your severe spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
On average, the surgery to implant the ITB therapy takes about 1 to 2 hours from start to finish. Your doctor can answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
Talk to your doctor about a 1-day screening test to see what intrathecal baclofen therapy may do for you or your loved one.
Your doctor will consider many important factors to decide if a baclofen pump (ITB therapy) is right for you.
You may be a candidate for ITB therapy if you:
In addition, healthcare professionals may use the following criteria to determine if you are a candidate for a baclofen pump:
A standard screening test determines if ITB therapy may work for you. During the test, you’ll be screened with a small dose of the drug baclofen injected into the intrathecal space (where fluid flows around the spinal cord).
In one clinical study, baclofen reduced spasticity in 97% of people with severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury during the screening test1.
If your doctor determines you are a candidate for a baclofen pump, you will need to make the final decision about whether to pursue the treatment.
Here are some suggestions to help you decide if a baclofen pump is right for you:
Before you meet with your doctor, think about what you hope to learn. Prepare questions, and be ready to provide information about your medical history.
You'll work with a variety of healthcare professionals to determine if you are a candidate for intrathecal baclofen therapy. They'll thoroughly evaluate your condition to find the most appropriate treatment options. To get the best results, it's important to actively participate in discussions and decision-making related to your care.
Your healthcare team for severe spasticity treatment with a baclofen pump may be a combination of the following:
Surgery to implant a baclofen pump takes approximately 1 to 2 hours from start to finish, depending on individual surgical techniques. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have about the specifics of your procedure.
Your surgery to receive a baclofen pump may require a brief hospital stay, or it may be done on an outpatient basis. Before the procedure, you and your doctor will decide where to position the pump for your comfort.
Typically, the surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, but you may discuss alternatives with your doctor. During surgery, the pump will be placed just under the skin of your lower abdomen.
The pump will be connected to a thin, flexible silicone tube called a catheter. The catheter is threaded beneath the skin into the intrathecal space around the spinal cord, into which it will deliver the medication.
After surgery, you’ll feel some discomfort and tenderness at the pump and catheter sites. Your doctor may prescribe medication to relieve any pain caused by surgery and antibiotics to prevent infection. Tell your doctor if you notice any swelling, pain, or redness near your incision.
Depending on your doctor’s preference, the pump may be filled during or after surgery. However, some doctors recommend a short waiting period to allow you to recover from surgery and get adjusted to the pump.
You’ll begin receiving treatment as soon as the pump is filled with medication and the medication travels through the catheter to the intrathecal space. You may feel effects from the medication soon after delivery, or it may take a while for you to experience benefits. It may take several weeks to months to reach your optimal dose.
ITB therapy drug side effects are usually temporary and may be managed by adjusting dosage.
The most common side effects include:
Please follow your doctor’s instructions closely because a sudden stop of intrathecal baclofen therapy can result in serious illness (baclofen withdrawal symptoms), such as:
It’s important to keep your scheduled refill visits so you don’t run out of medication (baclofen) and to understand the early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal, which include:
Once the infusion system is implanted, possible device complications may include:
Penn RD, Intrathecal Baclofen for Spasticity of Spinal Origin: Seven Years of Experience. J Neurosurg, 1992, 77: 236-240.
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.