One of the techniques used to treat spasticity in patients with cerebral palsy is an infusion pump. These pumps deliver a muscle relaxant called baclofen directly to the spinal canal. This is meant to reduce hyperactive reflexes, excessive muscle tone, pain, and movement difficulties.
Now a study from Portugal has examined the consequences of long-term use of these pumps. Cerebral Palsy News Today reported on the matter.
The pumps are used to overcome a problem with using oral baclofen doses. The drug has trouble crossing the blood-brain barrier. By injecting the drug into the spinal canal, a much lower dose is necessary. The drug is delivered via a catheter that’s connected to the canal.
The researchers looked at 19 years of medical records from patients who had these pumps installed to see how well they worked, what complications were found, and how patients liked the pumps. 251 cases were found, of which 14% were for cerebral palsy cases.
No side effects were found to be directly caused by the use of baclofen in this manner, nor did it cause neurological deficits. Satisfaction rates with the pumps are also quite high.
However, the pumps do need maintenance, mostly for battery replacements but occasionally for more serious issues like a kinked or rejected catheter. No one in the study died as a direct result of the pump. The median survival length for a pump is six years before the unit must be replaced.