- Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Slideshow
- Make an MS-Friendly Home
- Take the MS Quiz
- Patient Comments: Baclofen Pump for MS - Side Effects
- Patient Comments: Baclofen Pump for MS - Experience
- What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
- What is spasticity?
- What is baclofen, and what are its side effects?
- How is an intrathecal baclofen pump used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS)?
- Who is a good candidate for an intrathecal baclofen pump?
- How does an intrathecal baclofen pump work?
- How can I expect to feel after having an intrathecal baclofen pump implanted?
- What are the potential risks and side effects of an intrathecal baclofen pump?
- How much does a pump cost? Does insurance cover a intrathecal baclofen pump?
Quick GuideMultiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms and Treatment
How is an intrathecal baclofen pump used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS)?
Baclofen can't treat MS itself. However, this medication can be effective in reducing the symptoms associated with severe spasticity caused by MS.
Who is a good candidate for an intrathecal baclofen pump?
There are various selection criteria used to determine if someone with MS is a candidate for an intrathecal baclofen pump. The primary consideration is the presence of spasticity that interferes with the individual's daily activities or care. If someone with MS has primary weakness, then the intrathecal baclofen pump is not an option. Other considerations include limited response to oral baclofen or intolerable side effects at the doses that are required to control the spasticity as well as a good response to a screening test of intrathecal baclofen administered into the cerebrospinal fluid. Prior to implantation of the pump, there must not be any sign of infection.
How does an intrathecal baclofen pump work?
The pump is implanted under the skin and is connected to a catheter (tube) that ends in the spinal fluid. The specific area of placement of the tubing is dependent on each patient and their associated symptoms. The pump has a small reservoir where the medication (baclofen) is placed and is programmed to deliver a specific amount of medication on a regular basis to the cerebrospinal fluid. The exact amount of medication delivered is unique to each patient and can be adjusted based upon symptoms. The programming is initially performed each month after the pump is implanted; once a patient has reached a stable dose, then the pump is checked and refilled every two to three months.
How can I expect to feel after having an intrathecal baclofen pump implanted?
Implanting a pump is a surgical procedure, and many patients experience some soreness around the surgical site after the pump is implanted. The pump is typically located in the abdomen, and some patients find that clothing that rubs over the area is uncomfortable. Some surgeons may fill the pump during the implantation, so that it starts working right away, while others wait a short time after the surgery is completed prior to filling the reservoir with medication. Once medication is flowing, benefits may be identified in six to eight hours.