What Is An Implanted Intrathecal Portal?

An intrathecal portal (or port) is an implanted device that allows access to the intrathecal space in your spine. It is used for the delivery of medications for pain management. A port is a small, stainless steel disc (about the size of a half dollar) with a raised "septum" in the center. Because the section is raised, it is easily felt through the surface of the skin. The port is usually implanted under the skin on the chest. Attached to the base of the port is a narrow flexible tube, called a catheter.

The catheter runs beneath the skin from the intrathecal space in the space around to the front of the chest where it is attached to the port. Since the entire device is placed under the skin, the risk of infection is greatly reduced. The septum is made of a remarkable self sealing rubber material. Over years of use, the septum may be punctured many hundereds of times and reseals itself instantly after use. This procedure is done only after a trial of epidural medications has been proven to be useful in managing your pain.