Board certified neurosurgeon Dr. Ilyas Munshi performs all aspects of neurosurgery on the nerves, brain, and spine. Dr. Munshi practices out of his Lafayette, Louisiana, clinic, and at Lafayette General Medical Center and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. In this interview, Dr. Munshi explains pain management with spinal pumps.
Q: What is a spinal pump and how do patients use it?
A: Implanted under the skin, a spinal pump is a device used to deliver concentrated pain medication to the fluid around the spinal cord. The device consists of two parts, a pump and a catheter. Filled with medication, the pump is implanted in the abdomen, whereas the catheter connects the pump to the spinal fluid. The physician adjusts the settings of the pump to release the fluid in a controlled manner.
Q: Is the pump better than oral pain medication?
A: Generally, candidates for spinal pumps are taking high doses of oral pain medications and are still unable to manage their pain or are losing quality of life because of the medications’ side effects. By delivering pain medication directly to the spine, spinal pumps significantly reduce the amount of pain medication that is necessary.
Q: Can anyone have a spinal pump implanted?
A: Candidates for a spinal pump must first take part in a trial to test the device’s effectiveness and medication delivery method. If they are responsive to the method, they have the surgery.
Q: What if a patient changes his or her mind after having the device implanted?
A: The procedure is completely reversible, making the pump system’s removal easy.