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 pain receptors near the spine (instead of going through your circulatory system), a drug pump offers significant pain control using a fraction of the dose that oral medication requires.1-5
The system consists of a pump and catheter, both of which are surgically implanted under the skin. The pump is a round device that stores and delivers pain medication. It is typically implanted in your abdomen. The catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is placed in a small tunnel created by the surgeon between 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’s office for more medicine when the pump needs to be filled.
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 receptors near 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.