Intrathecal Catheter & Pump Implantation

Learn more about Intrathecal Catheter and Pump Implantation offered by Dr. Chakerian at the Silicon Valley Pain Center in Los Gatos, CA.

spinal infusion therapy
back pain

Spinal infusion therapy is carried out via a catheter placed within the spinal canal in the spinal fluid (intrathecal space), which serves to bathe the sensory nerves of the spinal cord with medication, in order to relieve pain and/or muscle spasms. The medication is contained within a pump, which is implanted between the skin and the muscle of the lower abdomen. This type of treatment is useful in cases where pain is not able to be controlled by medication administered by other routes (by mouth or by skin patch). The catheter consists of a small soft, flexible tube which is placed with a needle into the intrathecal space. The infusion pump is about 3-4 inches in diameter and about ¾ inch thick. A small pocket in the lower abdomen is created to contain the pump, and the pump is connected to the intrathecal catheter by another small flexible tube which is tunneled under the skin. The pump can be filled with a variety of medications, such as morphine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, clonidine, local anesthetic, and ziconotide. Placement of the pump usually follows a successful trial of spinally-administered medication via an external pump, either administered to the patient in the hospital or at home.


The pump is available in several sizes. Determination of the proper size and type of pump depends on several factors: the patient’s size, the type of dose of medication necessary, and whether a battery-powered programmable pump, or a constant infusion pump without a battery is used. Most pumps are able to contain two-to-three months’ of medication within the reservoir, and the pump is refilled in Dr. Chakerian’s office under local anesthesia. The battery powered pumps need to be replaced approximately every nine years.


Dr. Chakerian has been implanting and caring for patients with pumps since 1993, and is one of the most experienced implanters in our area. The two brands which she works with are Medtronic and Codman.

Contact Us

Silicon Valley Pain Center

360 Dardanelli Ln, Ste 2G

Los Gatos, CA 95032

(408) 356-0503

Visit Our Patient Portal