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Intrathecal Baclofen Pump (ITB)

Baclofen is a muscle relaxing medicine that acts mainly at the spinal cord level. Doctors use this therapy to treat excess muscle stiffness, tightness, spasms and other symptoms. It is usually given as a tablet or liquid solution.

For certain conditions, the specialists at Phoenix Children’s may consider a surgically implanted device called an intrathecal baclofen pump (ITB). By delivering a steady, customized dose of baclofen directly into the intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord, the pump helps to enhance the medication’s efficiency and effectiveness.

ITB therapy can help children in these and other ways:

  • Reduce high muscle tone
  • Control posturing (abnormal body posture or positioning)
  • Ease pain and discomfort
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Reduce drowsiness or other medication side-effects
  • Improve function and movement
  • Lower doses of other medication needed
  • Simplify daily medication management

Doctors may recommend an ITB pump to treat these and other symptoms seen in a variety of neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, brain injury and spinal cord injury:   

  • Spasticity
  • Dystonia

What to Expect

Before our team of multispecialty doctors recommends this procedure, children undergo complete physical examination, careful testing and screening, and family education about the potential benefits, risks and precautions, as well as care requirements.

During the procedure, neurosurgeons place the ITB pump under the muscle lining in the abdomen. A narrow tube connects the device to the spine. Baclofen is stored in the device and is continuously delivered into the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord.  

After surgery, specialists custom-program the device using a device held over the skin to optimize the dosing for each child’s need.   

If your child has this surgical procedure, doctors and other practitioners will talk about pre- and post-surgical steps, including follow-up care, periodic device refills and adjustments, potential problems to report and other device-management information. 

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