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Baclofen pump

What is a baclofen pump?

Baclofen (BAK-loe-fen) is a muscle relaxer medication used to treat muscle spasms. You can take baclofen as a pill or get it directly into an area of your spine using a pump. The baclofen pump is placed under the skin and delivers the medicine directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, so it doesn’t go throughout the body first.

How does the pump work?

  • It automatically delivers a small amount of the medication directly around the spinal cord.
  • The pump needs to be refilled periodically so that it does not run out of medication. This must be done in the clinic.    

How is it placed?

  • Baclofen pumps are placed in to the lower abdominal wall. Placing the pump requires surgery.
  • A catheter (tube) attached to the pump is placed into the spinal column. 
  • The pump delivers small amounts of baclofen into the fluid around the spinal cord causing inhibition at the spinal level.

How is the pump refilled?

You must make an appointment in the clinic to have the pump refilled. In the clinic, your care team will locate the place on the pump to fill it. A needle will be used to enter the pump and refill it with medication using a syringe.

What are the possible side effects of baclofen?

It is important that the delivery of baclofen is not interrupted. Unsafe side effects have happened when this medicine was stopped suddenly.

Be sure that you:

  • Attend follow up appointments to refill your medication.
  • Watch for signs of the pump not working properly.
  • Call your clinic right away if you see any of the following:
    • Signs of not getting enough baclofen:
      Return to baseline spasticity, low blood pressure, tingling, itching, agitation, delirium, fevers, seizures
    • Getting too much baclofen is rare, but the following signs could occur:
      Drowsiness, dizziness, below normal temperature, seizures, agitation, slow breathing rate, fast or slow heart rate

What happens after surgery?

Your child will be in the hospital from 1-4 days after getting the pump, depending on recovery and how soon the medicine can be adjusted.

How should I care for my child at home?

  • Frequent hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent the spread of germs. Always wash hands well with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol hand sanitizer, such as Purell®.
  • Keep the dressing placed in the hospital until 4 days after the surgery. If there is any bleeding or drainage on the dressing, call the clinic.
  • Remove the dressing after four days to allow the wound to breathe.
  • The wound should be kept clean and dry for 7 days after surgery before full immersion underwater (e.g. bathing, swimming, etc.).
  • May shower after 4 days, and no full immersion underwater for at least 1 week after surgery.
  • Patients with pumps need ongoing follow-up at outpatient rehab for pump and medication adjustment.

When should I call the clinic?

  • Temperature higher than 102° F (38.9°C)
  • Any concerns of hardware exposure or leakage should be reported to neurosurgery immediately
  • Drainage from the wound
  • Any signs of not getting enough baclofen or getting too much

What else do I need to know?

Call the neurosurgery clinic with any problems until you are able to have a follow up appointment in the rehabilitation clinic.

Questions?

This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Reviewed 5/2018

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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