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Services and treatments

Drug pumps

How drug delivery therapy works

Unlike medications that circulate throughout your body in your bloodstream, drug delivery therapy releases medication directly into the fluid surrounding your spinal cord, which may lead to fewer or more tolerable drug side effects. 

About the drug delivery system

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 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’s office for more medicine when the pump needs to be filled. 

Advantages over other therapies

Drug delivery therapy offers advantages over other therapies for severe chronic pain: 

  • A screening test serves as a temporary evaluation period so you can see if drug delivery therapy relieves your pain before committing to long-term therapy. 
  • It does not have to be a permanent procedure. The system can be turned off or surgically removed if you do not like it or of you decide to pursue a different treatment 
  • Unlike oral medications, drug delivery therapy releases medication directly into the fluid surrounding your spinal cord rather than traveling throughout your body in your bloodstream. This may lead to fewer side effects, such as nausea and constipation. 
  • Drug delivery therapy may provide relief when other treatments – like medications or injections – have not. 

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