Intrathecal administration of drugs

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By K K Jain MD

A number of drugs that act on the nervous system are administered by intrathecal route. The main application is in anesthesia and management of pain. This route has the advantage of bypassing the blood-brain barrier for drugs with poor penetration into the central nervous system. In this clinical article, Dr. K K Jain, a neurology consultant in Basel, Switzerland, discusses a number of other indications, including intrathecal chemotherapy for carcinomatous meningitis and chronic pain.

Key points

  • Intrathecal drug administration is the introduction of a therapeutic substance into the cerebrospinal fluid by injection into the subarachnoid space of the spinal cord in order to bypass the blood-brain barrier.
  • The main indications are for anesthesia and pain management.
  • Adverse effects associated with this route of administration and complications of the devices used for this purpose should be noted.