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AANS: Surgical Technique May Ease Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Last Updated: May 07, 2009.

Patients with severe post-herpetic neuralgia who do not respond to conventional treatment or cannot tolerate the side effects may benefit from surgical implantation of a mechanical pump that delivers narcotic medications directly to the spinal sac, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, held from May 2 to 6 in San Diego.

THURSDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with severe post-herpetic neuralgia who do not respond to conventional treatment or cannot tolerate the side effects may benefit from surgical implantation of a mechanical pump that delivers narcotic medications directly to the spinal sac, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, held from May 2 to 6 in San Diego.

Andrew J. Fabiano, M.D., of the University at Buffalo in New York, and colleagues studied five patients (four men and one woman, average age 75 years) who respectively received intrathecal drug administration of morphine only, morphine/bupivicaine, sufentanyl only, sufentanyl/bupivicaine, and sufentanyl/bupivicaine/clonidine over a seven-year period.

The researchers found that all five patients achieved a 50 percent or greater improvement in pain control as measured by the Visual Analog Scale and had no complications associated with the pump/catheter drug delivery systems.

"Post-herpetic neuralgia is a chronic pain condition which can be difficult to treat," Fabiano said in a statement. "It occurs typically in older patients who may experience sedation from oral/transdermal narcotics."

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