What is Targeted Drug Delivery (a Pain Pump)?

With targeted drug delivery, a pain pump delivers pain medication directly to the fluid around the spinal cord. This may result in effective pain relief at lower doses and with fewer side effects compared to oral medications, which go through your circulatory system.

How Targeted Drug Delivery Works

A targeted drug delivery system delivers pain medication directly to the fluid around the spinal cord, in an area called the intrathecal space.

The system includes a drug pump that is connected to a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. Both the pump and the catheter are fully implanted under the skin.

Because the pump releases medication directly to the pain receptors near the spine instead of going through your circulatory system, pain relief can be achieved with a small fraction of the oral medication dose.1-3

The Effect of Oral Medication

Watch what happens when you take a pill by mouth.

Studies have also reported that targeted drug delivery provided pain relief in many patients who could not achieve adequate control even with high doses of oral pain medications.2

How a Pain Pump Delivers Medication

How a Pain Pump Delivers Medication

See how targeted drug delivery is precise and targeted.

Realistic expectations are essential to satisfaction with any pain treatment. Targeted drug delivery cannot eliminate the source of your pain or cure any underlying disease, but it may help to better manage your pain.

Wondering what targeted drug delivery feels like? Talk with one of our ambassadors, who has a pain pump and has volunteered to share his or her experience.

What Patients Have to Say About Targeted Drug Delivery


Targeted Drug Delivery Since 2005
"My family life has improved dramatically since the infusion pump."

Components of the Targeted Drug Delivery System

Targeted drug delivery uses the Medtronic SynchroMed™ II infusion system, which includes several components:

  • A programmable drug pump – A battery-powered device that stores and dispenses medicine according to instructions programmed by your doctor
  • An intrathecal catheter – A thin, flexible tube that connects to the pump and delivers medication from the pump to the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord
  • Physician programmer – A computer at your doctor’s office that lets your doctor tailor your therapy to best meet your needs
  • Personal therapy manager – An optional handheld device that gives patients more control over their pain by allowing them to receive an extra dose of pain medication when needed and within physician-set limits

The SynchroMed™ II pump is implanted just under the skin of the abdomen. Your doctor will work with you to ensure that it is comfortable and does not interfere with your movements.

During the surgery, your doctor fills the pump with pain medication. The pump sends the medication through the catheter to the spinal area where pain receptors are located. You return to your doctor’s office for more medicine when the pump needs to be refilled.

The SynchroMed™ II system is programmable, allowing doses to be scheduled and adjusted by your doctor to ensure that you receive the best pain relief possible.

You can try targeted drug delivery during a screening test before deciding if it’s the right long-term choice for you.