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Cranial Nerve Palsy and Intracranial Subdural Hematoma Following Implantation of Intrathecal Drug Delivery Device
  1. Cesar A. Velarde, M.D.,
  2. Robert E. Zuniga, M.D.,
  3. Raimundo F. Leon, M.D. and
  4. Stephen E. Abram, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  1. Reprint request: Stephen E. Abram, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, 2701 Frontier NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131-5216.


Background and Objectives Complications related to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak and low CSF pressure can occur following placement of an intrathecal drug delivery device.

Methods A 58-year-old man with chronic, intractable lower back pain underwent implantation of an intrathecal drug delivery device. On the fourth postoperative day, he developed a postural headache and diplopia with findings compatible with left sixth cranial nerve palsy. The headache subsequently became constant and nonpostural. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging was obtained that showed the presence of a posterior subdural intracranial hematoma. Conservative treatment for postdural puncture headache did not improve the symptomatology. Therefore, an epidural blood patch was performed that produced rapid improvement and eventual resolution of symptoms.

Conclusions Intrathecal catheter implantation can result in CSF loss that might not resolve promptly with conservative therapy. In this case, epidural blood patch proved to be a safe and effective form of treatment.

  • Intrathecal drug delivery device
  • Dural puncture
  • Intracranial subdural hematoma
  • Diplopia
  • Cranial nerve palsy
  • Headache
  • Epidural blood patch

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