Once the port is placed, it will be accessed with a special needle and connected to an external infusion pump containing the intrathecal medications. We will assess that the port is functioning correctly by observing for signs of pain relief from the medications, as well as development of numbness from the local anesthetic. You will be monitored for 20 to 40 minutes by a Recovery Room nurse and a Pain Management physician. If there are no signs of problems, you will be ready to leave the recovery area and be transferred to your room in the Ambulatory Treatment Unit for observation overnight. You will be monitored for correct functioning of the newly placed intrathecal port, as well as for any complications related to the procedure and the anesthesia. If there are no signs of problems, you will be ready to leave by the next day.
A home nursing agency will be required to provide care for your intrathecal port. The medication cassette will need to be changed daily. The dressing, needle, and the infusion tubing will need to be changed every three days by a home visiting nurse. The visiting nurse will also monitor for any signs of infection.
Your port will be dosed with medications on either an intermittent or continuous basis based on the determination of the Pain Management physician.
Prior to leaving the hospital, the incision areas will be dressed with a dry sterile dressing, which is clear. You will be seeing directly through the dressing and can watch for any signs of infection. The visiting nurses will change the access needle and tubing for the infusion pump every three days. They will also monitor to make sure the wounds are healing appropriately.