Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 254-259

First online:

Intrathecal therapy for the management of cancer pain

  • Shane E. BroganAffiliated withDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Utah Email author 

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Inadequately managed cancer pain continues to be a significant problem despite increased awareness, improved knowledge and understanding of pain pathophysiology, and standardized treatment guidelines of this distressing and debilitating symptom complex. Small subsets of patients who are refractory to optimal medical management because of drug toxicity or unsatisfactory analgesia may be candidates for exteriorized or implantable intrathecal drug delivery systems. By delivering opioids and other agents directly to the central nervous system, intrathecal drug administration can offer superior pain relief with less toxicity at a fraction of the systemic dose. With adjuncts such as local anesthetics and clonidine, intrathecal therapy also allows for broader therapeutic options in the most difficult of cases. In general, intrathecal therapy is underused despite evidence of its efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness.