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J Trauma. 2001 Jan;50(1):158-61.

Intrathecal baclofen after traumatic brain injury: early treatment using a new technique to prevent spasticity.

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Intensive Care Unit, Dupuytren University Hospital, 2 Avenue Martin Luther King, 87042 Limoges, Cedex, France.



In the early course of severe head trauma, the clinical value of intrathecal administration of baclofen to reduce autonomic disorders and spasticity has not been established.


We studied four patients (Glasgow Coma Scale score 3 or 4) with autonomic disorders and spasticity who failed to respond to conventional treatment during the early course of head injury. Baclofen (25 microg/mL) was infused continuously through an intrathecal catheter inserted at patient bedside and subcutaneously tunneled. When this treatment was successful, the spinal catheter was removed and surgically replaced by another catheter connected to a subcutaneous pump. Clinical follow-up was obtained at 6 months after the head injury.


Mean delay for the initiation of intrathecal baclofen was 25 days (range, 21 to 31 days), and optimal dose was 385 +/- 185 microg/day. In all patients, the Ashworth score was consistently reduced (3.5 +/- 0.5 vs. 4.5 +/- 0.5 for upper limbs and 2 +/- 0.5 vs. 4.5 +/- 0.5 for lower limbs), as were both the frequency and intensity of autonomic disorders. The spinal catheters were used during a mean period of 9.5 +/- 1.7 days without complications. All three survivors were equipped with a programmable pump and had a lower Ashworth score at 6 months. Autonomic disorders had disappeared in two patients and remained modest in the remaining patient.


Continuous administration of baclofen via the intrathecal route using this new technique seems to reduce autonomic disorders and spasticity during the early course of severe traumatic head injury.

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