Intrathecal Pump Placement

Back pain and leg pain will often resolve either on their own, with medical intervention or with surgical treatment to decompress the nerves. Sometimes, however, back and leg pain cannot be resolved such as with leg and back pain from a condition called arachnoiditis, a pain disorder caused by inflammation and scarring around the nerves. Failed back syndrome is another situation where leg and back pain continue despite previous surgical attempts to resolve. In situations where your neurosurgeon feels an open surgery would not be helpful for you, an intrathecal pain pump is considered.

An intrathecal morphine pain pump is a drug delivery system that involves implanting a small reservoir under the skin to deliver pain medication directly to the spinal nerves.This helps attain pain relief at much lower doses than through oral administration of pain medications.

An intrathecal pain pump is indicated in patients with severe, chronic lower extremity or back pain.


The procedure is performed in an operating room with the patient under general anesthesia. The patient is placed on their abdomen and a catheter is inserted through a small back incision into the spinal canal. The catheter is then passed under the skin, around your torso, and connected to a reservoir also placed under the skin, usually over the rib cage.

Postoperative Care

Patients are usually discharged home on the same day or the next day of the procedure. The wound needs to be kept clean and dry.


Risks related to the implantation of an intrathecal pain pump are minimal. However, potential risks associated with the surgery include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, and rarely, death.