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Questions and concerns about my wife getting the Medtronic pain pump.

Hello all!

I am new to this forum and joined because I saw this thread.

Quick background:

My wife is 32 years old and has a failed pancreas transplant (not rejected), severe gastroparesis(paralyzed stomach), Type 1D plus many other issues as you can imagine.

She had her trial last month and it went ok. She passed it at least. We have a consult next week with the provider who will be the one to refill it and may put it in as well. Not sure as we have been passed around a lot it seems.

We have many concerns, but she just has to get off the oral pills because it takes too much and she has malabsorption from her stomach disease and pancreatitis, so they don't work well at all. Her Dr.'s are pushing for this pump which sounds great if it works well. Honestly, I hadn't heard many positive stories until seeing this thread.

Our main concern is infection. It is necessary for her to take immunosuppression medicine to protect her transplant. Even though it failed, it is still inside of her and her white blood cells will attack it if not on the anti-rejection medicine. Meaning she is always at high risk for infection.

Has anyone heard of or had any issues due to infections?  

She had a chest port which had to be removed when she somehow had a staph infection in her blood. If she had another blood infection would it infect the pain pump as well? My understanding is that blood is like driving locally and the spine is like a superhighway when it comes to infection, yet the Dr.'s aren't concerned. Which to me, is concerning.

Would appreciate any insight or information possible. 

Thank you all so much for the community you have formed!



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,443

    hello pancreastplantfail
    welcome to spine-health

    first of all, thank you for being an advocate for your wife's health. 
    regarding the rejection question. since this is not an organ transplant, but implanting a device, you would have to clear that with her doctor. another blood infection would not effect the pump. the pump is merely a device with meds in it that is programmed to deliver x amount of drugs per day.
    does she have spinal issues? the catheter is usually placed around t10 and the meds stay in the interthecal canal of the spine. the meds do not go to your liver or kidneys. but i'm sure your doctor has gone over this with you.
    i have had a pain pump since jan, 2017, medtronics 40 mg. with all of my spinal issues it has made a big difference in the level of pain and being able to get up and do things. 
    if you have any more questions i will be more than happy to help you out.

    please click on the welcome link below and the tutorial for more information on the forum.
    welcome to spine health

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Thank you for the response. It makes us feel hopeful towards this new device.  

    She has some back pain but nothing I’d say is currentLy a problem, relative to other issues anyways. The chronic severe pancreatitis has gotten worse and the oral pain medicine just doesn’t reach her organs most times. She is pretty much maxed out on the pills and will have to be reduced due to new CDC regulations, therefore they are pushing the pump. The pain management Dr.s just want to reduce her as much as possible and are saying this is th ONLY option.

    It makes sense though, but no one seems to be worried about infections post op and further down the road. Clearly this forum is not providing medical advice as we are not Dr.s. So I understand whatever information I gather is support and not Medical suggestions.

    I have read warnings  saying infections can cause all sorts of trouble,but they are vague.

    Wondering what infections reach the pump and spinal cord?

    If any disease goes septic meaning gets into blood and rest of body, what barrier is keeping it from the spine? 

    Is Blood-brain barrier is bypassed? 

    We will definitely be asking the Dr.s on Monday but also need to be prepared because they do profit financially and we don’t want to be a yes man.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,443

    Good luck Monday, I hope you are making a lot of notes to take with you.
    Please keep us posted. Her issues she may face with the pump is some I've never heard of so this will be a learning experience for anyone that is interested.

    Hang in there and I hope she finds relief soon.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • I have a baclofen pump, so similar pump with a different medication.  I'm in a FB group that discusses the pump, surgeries, etc etc etc, and we do occasionally get someone with an infection at the pump site.  I'm not sure I've ever read someone getting meningitis from the pump (so infection at the intrathecal cath site instead).  Not a common complication, but certainly a possibility.  It will be interesting to see what your provider says - I would be the pro's outweigh the con's, and it's a risk you may want to take.

    Let us know what happens!

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

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