In this surgery, neurosurgeons place a pump about the size of a hockey puck under the skin in your child’s belly (abdomen). The pump delivers a medicine called baclofen all of the time into the fluid around your child’s spine.
Baclofen relaxes muscles and reduces spasticity throughout your child’s body. Since the medicine goes straight into your child’s nervous system, your child can have a much lower dose than if they took baclofen by mouth. A lower dose reduces side effects, such as feeling too relaxed or sleepy.
Before putting in the pump, we check that baclofen is the right medicine for your child. We use a needle to inject a test dose of baclofen into your child’s spinal canal (lumbar puncture). Then a physical therapist watches for several hours to see how the medicine affects your child’s body.
If you and your child’s team agree that your child can benefit from a baclofen pump:
- The neurosurgeon does surgery to put the pump under the skin of your child’s belly.
- The neurosurgeon attaches a thin tube (catheter) to the pump.
- The neurosurgeon threads the catheter under the skin at waist level to your child’s spine and inserts the catheter into the spinal canal.
- The neurosurgery team fills the pump with baclofen and sets it to deliver the exact amount of medicine your child needs.
- The pump begins slowly releasing the medicine through the tube and into the spinal canal.
The baclofen pump must be filled with medicine every 1 to 6 months, depending on your child’s dose. You can refill it at Seattle Children’s Rehabilitation Medicine or at another medical facility.
The pump lasts about 5 years. Then it must be removed and replaced during another surgery.