Object. The goal of this study was to ascertain the long-term effectiveness and safety of intrathecal baclofen (ITB) in the treatment of spasticity of cerebral origin in children and young adults.
Methods. A prospective, multicenter study was conducted in 68 patients who had been enrolled in the initial evaluation of ITB therapy and were willing to participate in long-term surveillance. Seventy-three percent of the patients were younger than 16 years of age at the time of study entry. The patients were examined at least every 3 months and were observed for an average of 70 months. At each follow-up visit, spasticity in the upper and lower extremities was evaluated by applying Ashworth scores. All adverse events and complications were recorded on standardized data forms.
Spasticity in both upper and lower extremities decreased significantly (p < 0.005) and remained decreased up to 10 years. The dosage of ITB increased from a mean of 157 (µg/day 3 months after pump insertion to 300 (µg/day at 2 years postimplantation, and remained relatively stable thereafter. There were no significant differences in ITB dosage in children of different ages. Adverse events potentially related to ITB therapy occurred in 50% of patients within 2 months after pump insertion and in 50% of patients thereafter; hypotonia and lethargy were the two most common adverse events. The most common complications of surgery were catheter-related problems (31%), seromas (24%), and cerebrospinal fluid leaks (15%).
Conclusions. Intrathecal baclofen provides effective long-term treatment of spasticity of cerebral origin and its effects do not appear to diminish with time. This therapy is frequently associated with adverse side effects that usually can be alleviated by adjustments in dosage.