Glossary Entry: Intrathecal Catheter


Definition: An intrathecal catheter is a thin, flexible tube placed within the spinal canal to deliver medications directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, bypassing the bloodstream and targeting the central nervous system.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: Intrathecal catheters may vary in length and gauge, with specific variations designed for different patient populations or medical conditions.


Common Uses: This device is commonly used to administer pain medications, chemotherapy drugs, or contrast agents for diagnostic imaging directly to the spinal cord and brain.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: The catheter is typically inserted using a specialized needle or catheterization kit and guided into the intrathecal space using fluoroscopy or ultrasound imaging. Proper placement is crucial to ensure accurate delivery of medications.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications of intrathecal catheter placement include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Careful monitoring and regular assessment of the catheter site are essential to detect and prevent complications. Proper sterile technique and regular flushing of the catheter may also be required.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Intrathecal pumps, used to infuse medications into the intrathecal space, are often used in conjunction with intrathecal catheters.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Advances in catheter materials and imaging technology have improved the safety and accuracy of intrathecal catheter placement.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: Healthcare providers must adhere to strict regulatory guidelines for the use and maintenance of intrathecal catheters to ensure patient safety and efficacy.