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J Neurosurg Anesthesiol. 2012 Jan;24(1):63-70. doi: 10.1097/ANA.0b013e31822ff779.

Long-term intrathecal drug administration for chronic nonmalignant pain.

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Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.



Chronic pain of nonmalignant origin requires effective long-term treatments, as for many patients pain management will be necessary throughout the rest of their lives. Intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDS) have become a recognized therapy for the management of severe and otherwise intractable chronic pain. However, it is still not clear whether this treatment can be effective for periods up to 10 years or longer, given the paucity of long-term follow-up. This study sought to examine the effectiveness of IDDS following an average of 13 years postimplantation.


Twenty patients participated in a longitudinal study with an average follow-up of 13.5 years (range: 10.4 to 17.9) after IDDS implantation. Investigation was carried out by means of a questionnaire before IDDS and after an average of 4 and 13 years of IDDS therapy. Assessment of pharmacological data and complications/side effects was performed.


Statistically significant improvements between baseline and 4-year assessment were observed for the following sensory and psychosocial variables: pain intensity, pain relief, coping, self-efficacy, depression, quality of life, housework, mobility, sleep, and social life (all P<0.001). No statistically significant changes were detected between assessments at averages of 4 and 13.5 years.


This study, with one of the longest follow-up intervals reported in the IDDS literature, shows that IDDS has the potential to be a life-long pain management solution in appropriately selected patients with chronic nonmalignant pain.

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