April 2004 
Volume 34  Number 4
Pages 26 - 26
  PDF Version Available!


  • Safety tips for refilling implanted pumps

    Patients with chronic pain may receive long-term intrathecal opioid therapy via an implanted infusion pump. Inserted under the skin in the abdomen or flank, the pump delivers medication by catheter to the intrathecal space. Opioids given by this route relieve pain at much lower doses compared with other routes. For example, the equianalgesic parenteral dosage for morphine is about 100 times greater than for intrathecal therapy.

    Unfortunately, intrathecal therapy via implanted pump also poses a risk of massive opioid overdose if the pump is accessed incorrectly. According to an FDA MedWatch report, a patient died after an attempt to refill the reservoir of his Medtronic SynchroMed pump. The injection port used to refill this pump's reservoir is in the center. The pump also has a catheter access port near the edge. When morphine intended for the reservoir was accidentally instilled into the catheter ...

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