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J Neurosurg. 1996 Sep;85(3):452-7.

Chronic intrathecal delivery of baclofen by a programmable pump for the treatment of severe spasticity.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Boston University Medical Center Hospital, Massachusetts, USA.


The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness of intrathecal baclofen delivered by a programmable pump for the chronic treatment of severe spasticity. Sixty-six patients with severe spasticity of spinal cord origin that was refractory to oral baclofen or who experienced intolerable side effects with this form of the drug were screened. The first nine participated in a double-blinded, randomized, placebo (normal saline)-controlled trial to determine response to a bolus dose of intrathecal baclofen. Subsequent patients were enrolled in an open-label treatment protocol without a placebo trial. All passed the screening, and the pump was implanted in 59 patients. Spasticity scores and medical costs before and after surgery were analyzed. In all patients, the mean Ashworth score for rigidity decreased from 4.3 preoperatively to 1.4 (p < 0.0005) with use of intrathecal baclofen. The spasm frequency score decreased from a mean of 3.6 to 0.5 (p < 0.0005). Activities of daily living, sleep, and skin integrity improved, and pain was eradicated in some. Constipation occurred in six patients. A reduction in dosage was necessitated by muscular hypotonia in three ambulatory patients, areflexic bladder and urinary retention in three others, and nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness in one. Catheter-related problems occurred 19 times in 15 patients. One pump was explanted because of infection in the pump pocket, and one was removed after it eroded through the skin. There were no pump failures. The use of intrathecal baclofen resulted in a decrease in the average length of subsequent hospitalizations. It is concluded that intrathecal baclofen delivered by an implanted programmable pump is a safe, effective, and cost-efficient method for treatment of severe intractable spinal spasticity.

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