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The Palliative Use of Intrathecal Baclofen in Niemann-Pick Disease Type C

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Ubeda Tikkanen, A.; Buxton, K.; Ullrich, C. K.; Stone, S. S.; Nimec, D. L.

Niemann-Pick disease type C is a rare progressive genetic disorder that leads to the abnormal accumulation of lipids within various tissues of the body, including brain tissue and liver. There is a rapid progression of the disease, resulting in severe disability in only a few years after the first symptoms, and survival is not much longer. Spasticity, dystonia, and chronic pain are common findings that severely impact quality of life in these patients. Analgesic management with traditional pain medications is not always effective, and the risk for secondary effects in medically complex patients is high. Liver function is also a limiting factor in these patients. This is a case report of a boy with advanced Niemann-Pick disease type C with developmental regression, cataplexia, and seizures. His severe spasticity made positioning and care difficult, and intense pain required multiple hospitalizations. He had unsuccessfully trialed multiple drugs. An intrathecal baclofen pump was placed without surgical complications and resulted in positive clinical effects. Baclofen pumps have classically been used for spasticity management in adults and children with nonprogressive diseases such as cerebral palsy or spinal cord injury with relatively long life expectancies. In adults, they have been used in patients with multiple sclerosis; however, use in pediatric neurodegenerative diseases has scarcely been reported. The use of intrathecal baclofen in palliative settings might provide an additional resource to provide comfort and quality of life for children with neurodegenerative diseases not only at end-of-life stages but also earlier on.

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