Intrathecal Baclofen Pump

What is an intrathecal baclofen pump?

Baclofen is a relaxant medication that normalizes the electrical signals that come from stiff spastic muscles in affected children. An intrathecal baclofen pump is a treatment for severe muscle spasticity for children who have difficulty taking pills or who need to have more direct treatment for their muscle spasms.

This treatment can be a good option for patients whose arms are more affected than their legs, or have a combination of spasticity and other movement disorders such as dystonia.

What happens during the procedure?

The system involves implanting a small flexible tube directly into the space that surrounds the spine (intrathecal space) and a pump placed under the skin of the belly to deliver the medication directly into the spinal fluid.

The baclofen pump stores and releases the right amount of medication allowing for adjustments to dose delivery, rate, and timing of the medication. The system can be refilled and the medication can also be turned off if not needed.

Is any special preparation needed?

The intrathecal baclofen pump is installed under anesthesia. A child may need to avoid food, drink or medications for a set period of time before the procedure.

What are the risk/side effects?

All surgery/anesthesia carry some risk. Infection, pump/catheter malfunction, bleeding, trouble with bladder control, baclofen overdose and baclofen withdrawal are all potential risks.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 05, 2020 01:11 PM

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