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About the Trial

Chronic Pain

Unlike other chronic pain treatments or surgeries, you can experience targeted drug delivery and see if it relieves your pain before committing to long-term therapy. A trial serves as a temporary evaluation period.

If you have a successful trial and your pain responds to targeted drug delivery, you can proceed with long-term therapy. You have had a successful trial if the therapy meets your goals and expectations.

At the trial:

  • You and your doctor will monitor your response to the medication during the trial
  • The effect will be similar to what you would experience with an implantable drug pump

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

Two Trial Methods

There are two trial methods. Your doctor will recommend the method that makes the most sense for your situation and discuss the risks of the 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
  • Continuous infusion method – A catheter is inserted into the intrathecal or epidural space, and connected to an external drug pump. This type of trial takes place over a period of several days

Complications can occur with the trial, including bleeding, infection, spinal headaches, 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 screening medication.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room. You may experience some discomfort in the area of your back where the incision(s) was made. This is temporary and will resolve in the hours and days following the procedure.

If your trial involved the injection method, you will:

Discuss your response to the trial with your doctor before going home. Your doctor will want to know:

  • Did your pain decrease?
  • Did you experience any discomfort?

If your trial involved the continuous infusion method, your doctor will discuss the following regarding your temporary system:

  • How to care for the area around the catheter while you’re at home
  • What activities and movements to avoid during the trial period

If you are uncomfortable during the continuous infusion screening trial, you can have the temporary catheter removed.

After the Trial

At the end of your trial period, your doctor will:

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

One way to think about your experience with a pain pump is to compare your ability to do things before and during the trial.

If you decide to proceed with targeted drug delivery, there will be a waiting period after the screening test and before your implant procedure. This will give the incision in your back time to heal and for the surgery to be scheduled.


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.