Clinical realities and economic considerations: Economics of intrathecal therapy

Samuel J. Hassenbusch*, Judith A. Paice, Richard B. Patt, Marshall D. Bedder, Gregory K. Bell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The estimated annual cost of medical management of chronic back pain is $25 billion. Such management is often ineffective and overly costly. Most physicians who have employed intrathecal pain therapy attest to its efficacy in the management of intractable chronic pain. However, few economic analyses are available to evaluate the cost effectiveness of different modalities and to aid in clinical decision making and third-party reimbursement policies. Current analyses tend to focus on short-term cost-benefit measurements and to ignore variables such as quality of life and patient functioning. This bias has impaired the ability of payers to make appropriate decisions regarding the safety, cost effectiveness, and efficacy of intrathecal pain therapy in noncancer patients. Clinical data demonstrate that for cancer patients whose expectancies exceed 3 months, the overall costs of intrathecal pain therapy my be less than those of tunneled epidural catheters or external infusion devices. In nonmalignant pain, intrathecal therapy appears to be cost effective compared to conventional medical management at 22 months. Further debate and fine tuning of these models from all perspectives are required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S36-S48
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Cost-minimization analysis
  • Implantable pain therapy
  • Managed care
  • Medical economics
  • Third-party payers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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