Baclofen commonly is used to manage spasticity caused by central nervous system lesions or dysfunction. Although both intrathecal and oral delivery routes are possible, no study has directly compared clinical outcomes associated with these 2 routes of treatment.
To compare spasticity levels, pain, sleep, fatigue, and quality of life between individuals receiving treatment with intrathecal versus oral baclofen.
Cross-sectional matched cohort survey study.
Urban academic rehabilitation outpatient clinics.
Adult patients with spasticity, treated with intrathecal or oral baclofen for at least 1 year, matched 1:1 for age, gender, and diagnosis.
Standardized surveys were administered during clinic appointments or by telephone.
Surveys included the Penn Spasm Frequency Scale, Brief Pain Inventory, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Fatigue Severity Scale, Life Satisfaction Questionnaire, and Diener Satisfaction with Life Scale.
A total of 62 matched subjects were enrolled. The mean (standard deviation [SD]) age was 46 (11) years with a mean duration of intrathecal baclofen or oral baclofen treatment of 11 (6) and 13 (11) years, respectively. There were 40 (64%) male and 22 (36%) female subjects. Primary diagnoses included spinal cord injury (n = 38), cerebral palsy (n = 10), stroke (n = 10), and multiple sclerosis (n = 4). The mean (SD) dose of intrathecal and oral baclofen at the time of survey were 577 (1429) μg/day and 86 (50) mg/day, respectively. Patients receiving intrathecal compared with oral baclofen experienced significantly fewer (1.44 [0.92] versus 2.37 [1.12]) and less severe (1.44 [0.92] versus 2.16 [0.83]) spasms, respectively as measured by the Penn Spasm Frequency Scale (P < .01; P < .01). There were no significant differences in pain, sleep, fatigue, and quality of life between groups. Subanalysis of patients with SCI mirrored results of the entire study sample, with significant decreases in spasm frequency and severity associated with intrathecal compared to oral baclofen (P < .01; P < .01), but no other between group differences. The mean (SD) percent change in dose of oral (21% [33%]) compared with intrathecal (3% [28%]) baclofen was significantly larger two years prior to the date of survey (P = .02).
Long-term treatment with intrathecal compared with oral baclofen is associated with reduced spasm frequency and severity as well as greater dose stability. These benefits must be weighed against the risks of internal pump and catheter placement in patients considering intrathecal baclofen therapy.