Doctors sometimes let patients suffering from chronic pain self-administer prescribed doses of intravenous drugs. But those patients have always had to be tethered to an IV and drug bag. A new device that works with the world's first and only implantable and programmable drug pump could change all that. Here's how it works: morphine is stored in a pager-size pump just under the skin of the abdomen. A small tube, or catheter, connected to the pump carries the medication to the fluid-filled space surrounding the spinal cord, where pain signals travel on their way to the brain. In response to breakthrough pain, the patient presses a button on a handheld remote that activates the pump to deliver a programmed dose of additional medication. According to its maker, the SynchroMed infusion system works better and requires much smaller doses than intravenous methods because the pump delivers the medication directly to the place where it can be most effective.
Availability: In 2003, for $1,800
To Learn More: www.medtronic.com
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