Patients with Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) IV–V cerebral palsy (CP) have significant spasticity and frequently develop scoliosis. Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) pumps are effective in managing spasticity. The effect of ITB therapy on the postoperative course following spinal fusion in patients with GMFCS IV–V CP has not been described. This study sought to compare postoperative recovery, including complications, in patients using ITB therapy with those with no ITB therapy.
Evaluate the effect of ITB on the postoperative recovery for patients with GMFCS IV–V CP who undergo spinal fusion for scoliosis.
Health records for patients with GMFCS IV–V CP who underwent a spinal fusion for scoliosis at a major quaternary-care children's hospital from January 2009 to October 2015 were reviewed and relevant data were abstracted. Descriptive statistics and regression models were used to compare patients.
Sixty-nine patients were included—19 ITB therapy and 50 no ITB therapy. Demographic and operative characteristics were similar across groups. The mean length of stay for patients in the ITB therapy group was 11.2 days and 14.3 days for the no ITB therapy group, with no difference between groups (p = .12). Pain scores in both groups decreased at the same rate, with scores in the ITB therapy group averaging one-half point lower (p = .32). The average amount of morphine equivalents (p = .71) and benzodiazepine equivalents (p = .53) used were similar between groups. Complication rates were significantly different between groups. Four (21%) of the ITB therapy patients had 1 or more complications whereas 28 (56%, p = .01) in the no ITB therapy group had 1 or more complications. The average number of complications per patient in the ITB therapy group was 0.3 (SD: 0.075, range: 0–3) and the no ITB therapy group was 1.1 (SD: 1.1, range: 0–6, p = .01).
There was no significant difference in length of stay, pain scores, or pain/spasticity medication use between groups after spinal fusion, but there was a significantly lower incidence of complications in the ITB therapy group.
Kristin Buxton, MS, RN, CPNP, Nurse Practitioner, Baclofen Pump Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Rachel Difazio, PhD, RN, PPCNP-BC, FAAN, Nurse Scientist, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Ann Morgan, MS, RN, CPNP, Nurse Practitioner, Baclofen Pump Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Margaret McCabe, PhD, RN, PNP, Nurse Scientist, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Peter W. Forbes, MA, Statistician, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
This research study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Boston Children's Hospital.
The authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest.