Does an Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Impact Scoliosis Progression and Complicate Posterior Spine Fusion in Patients with Cerebral Palsy?

Laura A.B. Lins, Anatoliy Nechyporenko, Matthew A. Halanski, S. Hetzel, Kenneth J. Noonan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Retrospective comparative study. Objectives: In patients with cerebral palsy (CP); we determine the impact of intrathecal baclofen pumps (ITBPs) on scoliosis curve progression before posterior spine fusion (PSF) and its effects on surgical outcome. Background: Children with CP can have rapid scoliosis progression, and high rates of surgical complications can be encountered. It is unknown whether the presence of pre-existing ITBP results in more difficult surgery and higher complication rates in similarly affected children. Methods: A single-center retrospective study of CP patients undergoing PSF over a 15-year period. Demographics, comorbidities, curve magnitudes, and surgical methods were compared between patients with ITBP and those without. Postoperative complications, length of intensive care unit/hospital stay, drain use and output volume, and need for further surgery were also compared. Curve progression analysis after ITBP placement was performed on a subgroup of patients with high-quality consistent radiographs. Results: Nineteen patients with ITBP and 49 patients without ITBP met inclusion criteria. Age, comorbidities, number of levels fused, and fixation techniques during PSF were not significantly different between cohorts. ITBP patients were more likely to have PSF with osteotomy (p = .022). Increased intraoperative neurosurgical consultations were found for patients with ITBP (42.1% vs. 4.0%; p < .001). Median surgical time was 1.2 hours greater in patients with ITBP (6.7 vs. 5.5 hours, p = .039). There was no difference in hospital course and complications in patients with ITBP and those without ITBP. Thirty-one patients without ITB were compared with 15 ITBP patients for curve progression before PSF, demonstrating a mean rate of scoliosis progression of 9.6° ± 6.7°/y and 14.8° ± 9.1°/y (p = .0346), respectively. Conclusion: The presence of an ITBP appears to be associated with the increase in scoliosis progression; and these patients will likely have a more challenging spine fusion. Fortunately, the final outcome is not affected by ITBP. Level of Evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSpine Deformity
StateAccepted/In press - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Baclofen pump
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Pediatric orthopedics
  • Scoliosis
  • Spine fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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