Spinal cord compression complicating subarachnoid infusion of morphine: Case report and laboratory experience

R. B. North, P. N. Cutchis, J. A. Epstein, D. M. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The intraspinal administration of morphine has been employed increasingly in the management of intractable pain of malignant as well as benign origin. We have encountered a previously unreported clinical complication: spinal cord compression by an inflammatory tissue mass surrounding a subarachnoid infusion catheter administering morphine, leading to paraplegia. The patient was referred to our institution after catheter and pump implantation for chronic, intractable pain associated with pre-existing lumbar arachnoid fibrosis, after multiple myelograms and surgeries. The patient may, therefore, have had an underlying propensity to foreign body reactions. We have encountered a similar phenomenon, however, in a canine laboratory model. The pathological features in both our patient and our laboratory preparation, with inflammatory tissue masses around the tip of the catheter but not around proximal subarachnoid segments, suggest an effect related to infusion, as opposed to infection or the presence of the catheter. We review the pathological features in both settings and the pertinent literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-784
Number of pages7
JournalNeurosurgery
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1991

Keywords

  • Arachnoiditis
  • Implantable drug device
  • Intrathecal morphine
  • Pain
  • Spinal cord compression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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