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Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014


West Penn Hospital - Forbes Regional Campus Surgeon Performs Innovative Treatment for Patients With Severe Spasticity

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Implantable Pump Delivers Medication to Spinal Area; Can Ease Daily Tasks for Patients

MONROEVILLE - Patients who suffer from severe spasticity often have difficulty with simple daily tasks such as eating or getting dressed. An innovative treatment now available at West Penn Hospital – Forbes Campus can help some of these patients regain some of their functioning and lead more independent lives.

Medtronic ITB Therapy uses a surgically placed pump that continuously delivers a medication called baclofen to the fluid around the spinal cord, where it is needed most, loosening overly tight muscles and minimizing spasticity-related pain.

This therapy is one of a number of advanced medical services now offered at Forbes, within easy access of patients in eastern Allegheny County, Westmoreland County and surrounding areas. The procedure is performed by Eugene A. Bonaroti, MD, Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Forbes and West Penn Hospital.

“It’s gratifying to be able to offer a treatment that, for some patients, makes such a huge difference in their daily lives,” said Dr. Bonaroti.

Severe spasticity is caused by damage to the part of the central nervous system that controls voluntary movement and is typically associated with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury. For people with these disorders, spasticity can hamper their ability to perform simple daily chores such as feeding, dressing or washing themselves.

Spasticity is often described as tight, stiff muscles, or spasms that make movement, posture and balance difficult. Symptoms may include increased muscle tone, overactive reflexes, involuntary movements, pain, abnormal posture, permanent muscle contractions and bone or joint deformities.

While there is no cure for severe spasticity, treatment options include rehabilitation therapy, oral medication, surgery to sever the nerve roots, or injection therapy for specific muscle groups.

Medtronic ITB is an adjustable and reversible therapy in which a programmable, battery-powered medical device that stores and delivers a prescription medication called Lioresal (baclofen) is surgically placed in the abdomen. A catheter is inserted near the spine and connected to the pump.

With Medtronic ITB, a small amount of medication is delivered directly to the spinal fluid, decreasing spasticity while possibly reducing side effects that often accompany oral medication.

Suitable candidates for Medtronic ITB have experienced intolerable side effects from oral medications or have found other treatments ineffective. A screening test determines whether the therapy may work.

In clinical studies, ITB Therapy reduced spasticity in 86 to 97 percent of patients with severe spasticity, depending on whether their condition resulted from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or a brain injury.


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