How it works

See how Medtronic Targeted Drug Delivery helps you manage chronic pain.

What is targeted drug delivery?

Targeted drug delivery provides effective pain relief by delivering medication directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord via a programmable pump.1,2

Potential benefits of targeted drug delivery

  • Improved ability to function and participate in day-to-day activities3
  • Effective pain relief1,2
  • Less or no need for oral pain medication1,2
  • Fewer side effects compared to oral medication4
  • Patient satisfaction3
  • Personalized — the optional myPTM™ Personal Therapy Manager allows you to manage your own pain therapy by delivering a dose of medication within your doctor’s pre-set limits.
  • Surgically reversible

Advantages over other treatments for chronic pain

  • Because targeted drug delivery releases small amounts of medication directly to the fluid surrounding your spine, pain can be controlled with a fraction of the oral medication dose.5
  • Most people experience fewer or more tolerable side effects versus oral dosing, such as constipation and drowsiness.4
  • Targeted drug delivery may provide relief when other treatments — like oral medications or injections — have not5
  • It does not have to be a permanent procedure like back surgery.
  • The trial serves as a temporary evaluation period before committing to long-term therapy.

The journey

Male patient speaking with female medical professional.

1. Trial before surgery

A trial allows you to try targeted drug delivery before you commit to an implant.

2. Surgery

During the surgery, the targeted drug delivery pump is implanted just under the skin of the abdomen.

3. Refill

At follow up appointments, your physician fills the pump with pain medication. The pump sends the medication through the catheter to the spinal area where pain receptors are located. You return to your physician’s office for more medicine when the pump needs to be refilled.

Possible risks

Surgical complications are possible. Some of these complications may include infection, headache, spinal fluid leak, or paralysis.

Do not have the implant surgery if you have an active infection at the time, or if your body size is too small to hold the drug pump.

Once the device is implanted, device complications or adverse drug events may occur, which could be life threatening or require additional 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. Additionally, inflammatory mass has been reported at the tip of the catheter, which may lead to complications, including paralysis.
  • The pump could stop because the battery has run out or because of failure of another part of the infusion system.

Please see Important Safety Information for more details. Always discuss the benefits and risks of this therapy with your physician.


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


Deer T, Chapple I, Classen A, et al. lntrathecal 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.


Roberts LJ, Finch PM, Goucke CR, Price LM. Outcome of intrathecal opioids in chronic non-cancer pain. Eur J Pain. 2001;5:353-361.


Smith TJ, Staats PS, Deer T, et al. Randomized clinical trial of an implantable drug delivery system compared with comprehensive medical management for refractory cancer pain: impact on pain, drug-related toxicity, and survival. J Clin Oncot. 2002;20:4040-4049.


Smith TJ, Swainey C, Coyne PJ. Pain management, including intrathecal pumps. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2005 Aug;9(4):243-8

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.