Evaluation of salvage techniques for infected baclofen pumps in pediatric patients with cerebral palsy: Clinical article

Sydney M. Hester, John Fremont Fisher, Mark R. Lee, Samuel D. Macomson, John R Vender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Object. Intrathecal baclofen therapy has been used successfully for intractable spasticity in children with cerebral palsy. Infections are rare, but they are potentially life threatening if complicated by bacteremia or meningitis. Treatment without removal of the system is desirable if it can be done safely and effectively. Methods. The authors reviewed the records of 207 patients ranging from 3 to 18 years of age with cerebral palsy who underwent placement or revision of a baclofen pump. They identified 38 patients with suspected or documented infectious complications. Initial attempts were made to eradicate infection with the devices in situ in all patients. Methods and effectiveness of pump salvage were evaluated. Results. Of the 38 patients identified, 13 (34.2%) had documented infections; 11 had deep wound/pocket empyemas and 2 had meningitis. Eight patients with deep wound infections received intravenous antibiotics alone. All required pump explantation. The remaining 3 patients underwent a washout procedure as well; the infection was cured in 1 patient. Both patients with meningitis received intravenous and intrathecal antibiotics, and both required device explantation. In addition, 25 patients (65.8%) had excessive or increasing wound erythema. No objective criteria to document a superficial infection were present. The wounds were considered suspicious and were managed with serial examinations and oral antibiotics. The erythema resolved in 24 of the 25 patients. Conclusions. In general, observation, wound care, and oral antibiotics are sufficient for wounds that are suspicious for superficial infection. For deep-seated infection, antibiotic therapy alone is generally insufficient and explantation is required. Washout procedures can be considered, but failures are common.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-554
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Baclofen pump
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Device-related infection
  • Functional neurosurgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Salvage therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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