Drug pumps (intrathecal drug delivery systems) deliver pain medication to the fluid-filled area surrounding the spinal cord (called the intrathecal space). Because pain medication goes directly to the area around the spine, a drug pump may offer significant pain control using a small fraction of the dose that oral medication requires.1-3
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 typically placed in your abdomen. The catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is inserted into your spine and connected to the pump.
During the surgery, your doctor fills the pump with pain medication using a needle. The pump sends the medication through the catheter to the spinal area where pain receptors are located. You return to your doctor for more medicine when the pump needs to be refilled.
The spinal cord is like a highway for pain signals that are heading to the brain. When the pump sends pain medication directly to the spine, it interrupts the pain signals before they reach the brain.
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.