Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) pump catheter placement is traditionally performed through entry into the spinal sac at the lumbar spine. A minority of children with cerebral palsy have severe concomitant neuromuscular scoliosis. In these children, whether surgically treated or not, access to the intradural space via the lumbar spine may prove technically challenging. The authors report on a series of children in whom, for various reasons, an ITB catheter was implanted using a posterior cervical spine approach.
The records of 20 children in whom a baclofen catheter had been placed were retrospectively reviewed to assess the demographic details, indications, and outcome of this procedure.
This approach was successful in all but one of the children in whom the procedure was abandoned given the presence of significant extradural scar tissue. Of the 20 children, 7 had previously undergone lumbar ITB catheter implantation, although the catheter was subsequently, iatrogenically transected during scoliosis surgery. Nine children had had corrective scoliosis surgery, and the fusion mass obviated access to the lumbar spinal sac. Four children had untreated scoliosis and corrective surgery was being contemplated. Complications included infection requiring explantation (2 patients), catheter migration (1 patient), intolerance to ITB (1 patient), and failure of implantation (1 patient). All patients who tolerated the ITB experienced improvement in spasticity. No complications were associated with the spinal level of catheter insertion.
Implantation of an ITB catheter via a cervical approach is safe and feasible and should be considered in children with severe corrected or uncorrected scoliosis, and thus avoiding the lumbar spinal sac.