Baclofen Pump | Evaluation

How does my child get evaluated for a baclofen pump?

If your doctor recommends a baclofen pump for your child, you will meet with the baclofen pump nurse practitioners and learn about the baclofen pump to make sure it is appropriate for your child.

From there, the baclofen pump nurse practitioners will help schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon. You and your child will meet with the neurosurgeon to discuss the baclofen pump further and plan for the surgery.

Baclofen pump therapy is not suitable for every child, so a trial helps you and your doctors decide if it’s right for you. Having a trial does not mean your child will definitely get a pump as there are many influencing factors. All of them will be discussed with you before any decision is made.

What happens at the baclofen trial?

  • A physical therapist will examine your child in the morning prior to the procedure to learn his or her baseline level of spasticity.
  • Your child will have a local or general anesthetic and will be given an injection (called a lumbar puncture) of baclofen into the space surrounding the spinal cord. This happens in the operating room.
  • Your child should not have any pain during the procedure because of the anesthetic. During the day, your child may develop a headache. This can be a side effect of the lumbar puncture.
  • After the procedure, your child will go to a recovery room and nurses will care for and observe him or her while the effects of the anesthetic wear off. Side effects can include drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.
  • The baclofen will begin to work about two to three hours after the medicine is injected. At that time, a doctor and physical therapist will examine your child again to see if the baclofen has had any effect on your child’s muscles.

If the trial is successful and your child responds well to the baclofen, we will proceed with placement of the baclofen pump, usually the next day, if this is what you decide.

The trial is a single dose of baclofen and may have a big effect on the tone (tension in the muscles) of your child’s legs. Remember, this effect may be more or less dramatic than the effect from the pump. This is because the pump dosing will be continuous and will be adjusted specifically for your child.