Frequently Asked Questions – Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy

How does a baclofen pump work?

A baclofen pump system includes a programmable pump and catheter that are surgically placed, usually just under the skin of the abdomen. The system delivers a liquid form of the drug baclofen directly to the fluid around the spinal cord, where it's needed most.

Most people report that the programmable pump is not uncomfortable or restrictive, and does not interfere with their movement. Depending on your body type, it may not show at all under regular clothes.

If oral baclofen didn’t work for me, why would intrathecal baclofen work?

Because the drug is delivered directly to where it is needed in the spinal fluid, only minimal amounts circulate throughout the body in the blood. This helps minimise the possible side effects that often accompany oral baclofen.

Will a baclofen pump cure my spasticity?

While a baclofen pump won’t eliminate the primary source of your condition or cure your disease, it may help you manage your severe spasticity symptoms and might allow you to participate in daily activities that have become difficult or impossible.

Am I a candidate for intrathecal baclofen therapy?

Candidates for a baclofen pump (ITB therapy) must:

  • Show a positive response to a baclofen injection in a standard screening test
  • Have sufficient body size to support the pump; the pump must be implanted 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) or less from the surface of the skin
  • Not have any infection
  • Not be allergic to baclofen

In addition, healthcare professionals may use the following criteria to determine if you are a candidate for ITB therapy:

  • Severe spasticity or spasms that interfere with function or daily activities
  • Severe spasticity or spasms that interfere with care or positioning

 

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.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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