Treatment of chronic unstable angina pectoris: use of a totally implantable programmable device for continuous intrathecal infusion of opiates: case report

Neurosurgery. 1996 Feb;38(2):385-8. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199602000-00031.


We report the case of a 70-year-old man with a 17-year history of angina pectoris, who had previously suffered two documented myocardial infarctions and undergone multiple diagnostic cardiac catheterizations, two coronary artery bypass operations, and several percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty procedures. The patient had experienced unstable angina for the past 3 years refractory to maximal medical therapy and was unsuitable for further attempts at revascularization. After a successful trial of epidural infusion of morphine, a totally implantable programmable continuous-infusion device with an intrathecal catheter was implanted in the patient on August 18, 1993, resulting in maintained pain resolution. His gardening, carpentry, and other activities of daily living were limited only by shortness of breath. Six months later, the pump treatment did not mask the development of a myocardial infarction. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the use of continuous intrathecal infusion of morphine or the use of a totally implantable programmable infusion device for angina pectoris. We propose that in carefully selected patients with chronic unstable angina, continuous intrathecal infusion of morphine may relieve effort-induced pain without resulting in myocardial infarction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angina, Unstable / drug therapy*
  • Catheterization
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable
  • Injections, Epidural
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Palliative Care


  • Morphine