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Concerns about Medtronic pain pump

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Pain Management
Wanted to know if anyone has had the Medtronic infusion pump. I have my second apppointment tomorrow with my Doctor. Did some research and found that this type of pump was recalled but wanted more info. on it. Kind of worried about the procedure and possible serious and possibly deadly side effects. Also, wondered if it would be better to take oral morphine rather than have the pump installed. If anyone has had experience with stuff like this please respond to this topic.

currently on Fentanyl patch, taking percocet, skelaxin, neurotin,cymbalta, and ambien


  • What is a medtronic pump? Does it dispence meds right in to your body?
  • You can look on their website because they have the latest models, and more detail info on how they work. There was a string of post here on SH a few months ago about the good, bad , and the ugly, out of the mouths of people who already have it, or have tried it in the past.
    The pump delivers the drug (usually Morphine, maybe they throw in an anti inflammatory) directly in the epidural space. It mixes in with the spinal fluid and target directly the problem area. This way, you take a very small amount of Morphine (Like 2-5 mg) instead of maybe 60 mg of it in pill form a day. They hope that you won't need any oral meds after, but some people still need to take break thru meds. With the spinal pump, the hope is that you should have hardly no side effects because it's going directly instead of systemically throughout your body. I have read a couple cases here where a couple people were really sick and nauseated. You have to go in regularly for them to inject the meds thru your skin, and hope to goodness they hit the portal the first time ( the pump can role around if it hasn't settled down inside your body.) If things don't work out, they have to go in surgically to remove it. Oh, did I mention you have to have a psych evaluation before, and they do a trial first.

    I learned about this when I was on their site reading about their neurostimulator trial. I went thru that and had compilications. I hope I won't have to do that again.

    Jiftxxx, what problems do you have? It must real bad for them to put in a pump. I had a fusion close to 3 months ago, and I too take Fentanyl 50 every 2 days, Norco and other meds for back pain and persistent sciatica. This is my second surgery.
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  • I've had an implant since 4/06. It was the best thing that has happened in my quest to live as close to a normal life as I can with chronic pain. The recent recall is not because of a defect with the pumps but rather an issue with spinal growths called granulomas that have been found at the injection sites of the catheters. It was found that certain models were more likely to result in these growths. Granuloma growth is related to the volume of medicine infused and the length of time you have the implant. There are three common narcotics used in pumps. Morphine, which requires the most volume, dilaudid which is roughly four times stronger by volume and fentanyl which is roughly 100 times stronger by volume. There are other drugs commonly mixed with the narcotics for spasm relief and additional pain control. In my case I have a cocktail of dilaudid and bupivicaine. I started out with morphine and bupivicaine but as my back pain grew worse rather than increase the dosage of morphine my doctor has switched me over to dilaudid. I get equal pain relief with less drug. I go into the clinic around every 10-12 weeks to have the pump checked and refilled. It is one less prescription to worry about. The battery is estimated to last 5-6 years and when it's needed I'll go into the hospital for a simple surgery and an overnight hospital stay followed by stitch removal a week later. I'll be good for another 5 yrs.

    In the past year there has been a new drug approved for use with the pumps called Prialt. It is made from the venom of the ocean cone snail, is non narcotic and has had mixed acceptance. Prialt is very expensive and there are report of some serious side effects including psychotic episodes.

    I am very happy with the decision to get this implant. It has freed me from worrying about oral meds, clock watching for my next dose and the fear of running out of meds and sliding into withdrawal. I rarely think about medication through the course of a typical day.
  • Excellent post!

  • I just had my 2nd Medtronics Pump implanted in May 2008....the first pump lasted 5 years and got me off all oral pain meds.....the new pump does the same, but the time in between refills is now every 4 months vs. 6-8 weeks!!

    I can only speak for myself, but after 5 failed L4-S1 fusions, cages, broken rods and screws, every injection known to man and all the oral "zombie" pain meds.....THIS IS WAY BETTER!!!!!!

    It is done as an outpatient surgery, and the replacement surgery is even easier......it is about the size of a hockey puck and is just under the skin below my left ribcage. If you have gone through any back procedures/surgeries in the past, than you will think this one is no problem!

    I was on all the Fentanyl patches, Morphine, Norco, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, etc etc etc........you don't need them, or atleast not near as many, with the pump! The amount of medication used in the pump is about 1/300th of the amount of one oral pain pill! And since the pump leads go directly into your spinal fluid, it just numbs the pain and you don't feel "drugged" at all! IT'S AMAZING!!

    I will still occasionally have some break-thru pain, usually at night or if I've been doing too much...I'll take a norco once in awhile if needed...otherwise, I can chase my 2 1/2 yr old around all day-as a single mom! I could have never done that 6 years ago!!!

    Don't be afraid...atleast do the research!
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  • I note there is no mention of what happens when/if you lose your insurance and can no longer afford to have the pain pump refilled. This is a very important issue and you should always consider this possibility, as the pain pump is virtually forever. This happened to me!

    Taking oral narcotics is very dangerous and, no matter how you think you will do, you become addicted. I was taking 360 mg. of morphone daily & my life was that of a zombie. I gained impossible amounts of weight & lived like a recluse. I finally wanted to get my life in order & my pain specialist said I would have to enter a drug treatment program! I refused & weaned myself from the morphine, little by little, I also lost 103 lbs. While I still have my pain, I watch what I do and how I do it & take Excedrin for Back and Body. Nothing is as bad as living as an addict but it takes a lot to do what I did. If you need help, by all means ask for it and get it!
  • I went to see my pain specialist a couple of weeks ago. He asked me if I had ever considered a pain pump. I had read about them, but I figured it was something that I would never be able to afford. I told the doc that we shouldn't discuss it because I didn't want to get my hopes up about something that wouldn't happen. Long story longer, they asked me if I would be interested in participating in a research study. I "jump through hoops" keeping records, appointments, diaries, etc., I get the pain pump/surgery/medication for free, for life. Medtronics is wanting to see if neurontin will control the pain. I've been in so much pain for so many years, I just assumed I would have to live like this forever. I started the pre-testing yesterday. The "mental evaluation" is much ado about nothing. I'm not 100% guaranteed to be accepted yet, but it's looking very good. Of course I am nervous as hell, but excited too.
  • I love your Avatar and screen name! Very cool! indeed!

    I hope you get accepted into the trial, that would be awesome if they do indeed promise to treat you and your pump for life! Wow!

    I am in the waiting for a Permanent SCS, jumped through all the other hoops, just need to get to May 4th now!

    Is there any details on the study you are geting into?
    I am sure there are others here that may be interested in trying for this. General details only as specific doctors and institutions in postings are against the rules here to keep the spammers at bay! You can PM people details if there is anything like that you think may help them.

    Welcome again! Hope you get accepted and you get the best of everything from the pain pump!

  • I have a question for those of you who have had the pump installed. I had mine installed about ten days ago though the chronic pain is being controlled, I am experiencing pulsating muscular pain in my lower back/gluteus medius down through my mid thigh. It only lasts for a few seconds, then goes away. It happens upon standing up or situations where my legs are stretched out such as when sitting in a recliner. I have seen some other web sites where there are some mentions of something possibly like this that should go away once my pump pain med level is adjusted and this is just my body getting used to the new "form" of treatment. He took me off of all other meds (pain, muscle relaxers, etc), until we get the morphine pump where it needs to be because neither of us wants anything to interfere with what should be a true reading. Has anyone experienced anything like these "spasms"? Is it part of the process that go away with additional meds or is this indicative of something else that may have been hidden by the pain for all these years (nerve studies, mylegrams were negative - but who knows ;p)

    I had spinal fusion two years ago at L4-L5 which helped, but the pain and spasms just never went away, even after facet injections, cortisone injections, therapy, rhizotomy, you name it. I was finally dx'd with arachnoiditis a couple of weeks ago after twelve years of this merry-go-round... I don't regret the pump implant. It has been a boon in just the short time it has been in. I am just at a loss for information as to what people experience in the days/weeks/months after their implants. Of course what you get from the implant manufacturer is propaganda, and many of my web searches turn up discussions on pump failures, not the healing process. Any information that anyone can give would be great!!! Thank you.
  • Spasms can come from any back surgery so I'd not be to concerned other than to figure out how to get them calmed down! I have gone through cycles of spasms and muscles crawing like they have a work in them since my initial accident and they seem to come back around treatment times!

    I had another bout when my SCS trial was implanted, so I'm not surprised you are having them after the painpump was implanted. esepcially if he did not add the muscle relaxer back into the concoction you get from the pump.

    just something to talk to the doctor about next time you can. Have you tried ice or walking it off?

    I'm glad to see you are not getting caught up in the storeis from those who have had failures etc, they can be overwhelming and let you lose site of successes!

    My sons exgirlfriends mother (SEGFM) had a trial that went well, so they did the permanent implant, it got infected, they removed it, waited, reimplanted it, complications, then the put her in inpatient rehab.
    Sounds horrible? No not to talk to SEGFM! She now lives at home, walks up stairs, goes out drives, gardens, attends her daughters concerts, all of it things she could not manage without her pump! Read her story and think how horrible, yet in the end this woman has her life back! She once told my wife and I that should it fail tomorrow she has gotten two years of life that she would have spent most of home in a bed or recliner if she had not gotten the pump.

    Anyway, keep the faith and ask questions, everyone acts different, somethings work for some people and not others.
    Keep trying to you find your thing!
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