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Infectious Complications of Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Devices in a Pediatric Population

Dickey, Michelle P. MS, CPNP, CFNP*; Rice, Marilyn MS*; Kinnett, Douglas G. MD; Lambert, Robin RN, BSN; Donauer, Stephanie PhD; Gerber, Michael A. MD*; Staat, Mary Allen MD, MPH*

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: July 2013 - Volume 32 - Issue 7 - p 715–722
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e318287f02a
Original Studies

Background: Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) is an effective therapy for spasticity and dystonia in pediatric populations; however, there are associated infectious complications.

Methods: Patients who had an initial ITB device implanted at our center were followed to determine the proportion of patients with infectious and noninfectious complications, identify risk factors for infection and describe the clinical presentations, treatment and outcomes of infectious complications.

Results: Over the 15-year study period, 139 patients had an initial ITB device placed. The mean age at placement was 13.6 years (range: 6 months to 41 years). In the first year of follow-up, 83% had no complications or secondary procedures, 17% had at least 1 secondary procedure and 5% had an infectious complication. The median time until infection was 14 days (mean 33 ± 42 days). Patients with secondary spasticity or dystonia were more likely to have infections than patients with cerebral palsy (86% versus 14%; P < 0.0001). In the 94 patients with a first secondary procedure, 29% had at least 1 other procedure and 8% had an infection in the 1 year follow-up. Overall, 24 patients had 27 infections; 22% superficial, 33% deep and 45% organ space. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated in 50% of those with cultures obtained. Explantation was required in 59% of patients with an infection and differed by infection type: superficial (17%), deep (44%) and organ space (92%) (P = 0.004).

Conclusions: Infectious complications were relatively uncommon; however, when present, frequently led to the explantation of the ITB pump device.

From the Divisions of *Infectious Diseases; Clinical Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; and Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Michelle P. Dickey, MS, CFNP, CPNP, Instructor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave. MLC 6014, Cincinnati, OH 45229. E-mail:

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© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.