To document the effectiveness and safety of intrathecal baclofen administered through a tunneled catheter during a diagnostic procedure, prior to implantation of a subcutaneous pump, in children with chronic pain due to severe spasticity.
This was a retrospective study of 6 children with intense chronic pain due to spasticity caused by cerebral palsy or genetic dystonia. Increasing doses of intrathecal baclofen in continuous perfusion through a tunneled catheter were tested.
Lumbar intrathecal catheters were tunneled for 48 to 80 hours in 5 males and 1 female aged 8 to 18 years old. Intrathecal baclofen was administered in continuous perfusion up to maximum rates that ranged between 105 and 570 microg/day. For 5 patients the score on the visual analog pain scale (0-10) changed from over 7 to 0 by the end of the test. In 2 patients, side effects of analgesia were noted, specifically sedation, bradycardia, and bradypnea. No serious complications, such as meningitis, spinal abscess, or hematoma, were reported. The families of 4 patients chose to accept implantation of a subcutaneous pump. Pump therapy remained effective and free of complications when checked 23 or 55 months after placement.
Performing a trial of increasing doses of intrathecal baclofen therapy in continuous perfusion through a tunneled catheter facilitated selection of patients for whom chronic administration of intrathecal baclofen is effective and free of complications.