Learning About a Continuous Infusion Pain Pump After Surgery

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What is a continuous infusion pain pump?

A continuous infusion pain pump is a device that sends numbing medicine to decrease pain. It is usually used to reduce pain in the area where you had surgery.

A small tube (catheter) may be placed into or near where the doctor cut your skin (your incision). Or the doctor may place the catheter near a group of nerves that supply feeling to the area where you had surgery. The tube connects to the pump outside your body, and a small pouch inside the pump holds the medicine. The pump is set to give you a steady flow of medicine for several days after surgery to help control your pain.

This type of pump is small and portable. You can clip it to the waistband of your pants. Or you can carry it in a small handbag.

How does it work?

Here's how the pump works:

  • Your doctor or nurse sets the pump to release a steady dose of medicine for a set amount of time.
  • The medicine flows from the pump into the tubing.
  • The medicine helps block pain in the area where you had surgery.

The medicine in the pump only numbs the area where you had surgery. So it shouldn't make you sleepy or sick to your stomach. It doesn't cause the same side effects that other pain medicines can. That means you may be able to move around more and may feel more alert. And since the pump gives you a steady flow of medicine, you may not need to take any other pain medicines.

When is this type of pain pump used?

This type of pain pump is most often used after surgery. You can use it in the hospital and when you go home.

You will have some pain after surgery. This is normal. The pump can help control your pain. And it may help you get back to your normal activities faster. Your doctor or nurse probably will fill the pump with enough medicine to last 2 to 5 days.

Your doctor will let you know how long to use the pump. And the doctor will let you know when it's time to have the pump's tubing removed. Or you'll be told how to take it out yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your pain gets worse.
  • Your pain is not controlled by the medicine.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the incision.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have a metallic taste in your mouth.
  • You have ringing in your ears.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any problems with your pump, such as leaking, or if it stops working.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.