What are the advantages of ITB compared to taking baclofen by mouth?
- ITB is usually much more effective in controlling the symptoms of spasticity, because the medication is brought directly in contact with the spinal cord.
- With ITB, the medication is delivered continuously, day and night, giving a more steady relief of symptoms.
- ITB, in most cases, causes less side effects than oral baclofen, particularly when high doses are needed to treat severe spasticity.
- ITB programming is very flexible, allows more precise dosing of baclofen, and gives the ability to deliver different doses at different times of the day.
- Compared to other surgical treatments, ITB is reversible, as the pump can be stopped and removed if needed.
What are the potential risks and adverse effects of ITB?
The baclofen pump system needs to be surgically implanted under anesthesia, leading to the usual risks of surgery.
Complications more specific to ITB include the risk of infection around the device, and the risk of device malfunction. Baclofen withdrawal (from abrupt interruption of the delivery of baclofen via the pump) and baclofen overdose (usually as a result of human error) have also occurred with ITB. Serious complications from ITB are infrequent, and in most cases reversible as long as they are diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion. Even without complications, ITB can cause increased weakness, because it is very potent.