Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) is a valuable therapeutic option for patients with spasticity and dystonia. The techniques that place an ITB pump catheter into the subcutaneous fat of a lumbar incision are well described. Because patients who require ITB often have low body fat content, they may be predisposed to catheter-related complications. The senior author used a novel technique to place the catheter in a paraspinal subfascial fashion, and the short-term results were previously published. That study demonstrated no development of hardware erosions, catheter migrations, or CSF leaks within an average follow-up of 5 months. This study followed up on those initial findings by looking at the long-term outcomes since this technique was introduced.
Using the institutional review board-approved protocol, the electronic medical records were reviewed retrospectively for all patients who underwent paraspinal subfascial catheter placement by the senior author. Patients received follow-up with the surgeon at 2 weeks postoperatively and were followed routinely by their physiatrist thereafter.
Of the 43 patients identified as having undergone surgery by the senior author using the paraspinal subfascial technique between July 2010 and February 2014, 12 patients (27.9%) required reoperation. There were 5 patients (11.6%) who had complications related to the catheter or lumbar incision. No hardware erosions or CSF leaks were identified. These patients received a median follow-up of 3.0 years, with 30 of 43 patients receiving follow-up over 2.0 years.
This follow-up study suggests that the technique of paraspinal subfascial catheter placement translates to long-term decreases in CSF leakage and complications from erosion, infection, and also catheter malfunctions. It does not seem to affect the overall rate of complications.