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Intrathecal therapy for pain in cancer patients

Dupoiron, Denis

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: June 2019 - Volume 13 - Issue 2 - p 75–80
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000427
PAIN: CANCER: Edited by Anthony H. Dickenson and Paul Farquhar-Smith

Purpose of review Intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDS) for cancer pain remain little employed despite a high level of efficiency even though the technique is widely recommended. This review aims to summarize recent advances in IDDS for cancer patients.

Recent findings The respective roles of catheter positioning, volume and flow rate in diffusion of intrathecal treatments, as well as the individual roles of blood pressure, heart rate, and amplitude of the respiratory movements in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) treatment dispersion, are now well established. Models are available using MRI data. Morphine has long been the gold standard in first line treatment, but recent publications conclude that ziconotide has largely proven its efficiency and that adverse effects are controllable. Four recent publications have evaluated cohorts of cancer patients treated by IDDS in 315 patients. All found a great efficiency of intrathecal treatment for cancer pain. Technical innovations include new catheters and anchorage devices for easier placement and a lower rate of complication. Three-dimensional (3D) CT scan appears to be a noninvasive technique for the diagnosis of catheter complications. Ultrasound should be used to locate pump septum for refill.

Summary All recent recommendations highlight the efficiency of IDDS and propose to use it sooner.

Anesthesiology and Pain Department, Institut de Cancérologie de l’Ouest, Paul Papin, Angers Cedex, France

Correspondence to Denis Dupoiron, MD, Anesthesiology and Pain Department, Institut de Cancérologie de l’Ouest, Paul Papin, 15 Rue André Boquel, 49055 Angers Cedex, France. Tel: +33 2 41 35 29 03; fax: +33 2 41 48 31 90; e-mail:

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