Just the tip: Resection of a narcotic catheter-tip granuloma: 2-Dimensional operative video

Joanna Elizabeth Gernsback, John Paul G. Kolcun, Glen Manzano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The catheter tip “granuloma” is a rare inflammatory mass that forms in about 3% of patients with an intradural catheter, most commonly from a morphine pump. It has also been seen with other narcotic pumps, narcotic-non-narcotic combinations, and baclofen pumps. Mass formation is associated with increased opioid dose and concentration. It typically presents with increasing pain requiring increasing doses of medication, with minimal improvement, although it may present with neurologic deficits or be asymptomatic. On MRI, it appears as a round, rim-enhancing lesion that is low intensity with a hypointense rim on both T1 and T2. In the absence of neurologic deficits, there are many treatment options, ranging from a temporary stopping of the pump to catheter replacement. When the lesion presents with neurologic deficits, surgical intervention, beyond catheter replacement or repositioning, is indicated. A laminectomy is performed, with intradural exploration and careful resection of the mass, which is likely adherent to the spinal cord. Postoperative worsening of symptoms is common due to the mass being densely adherent to the spinal cord, requiring spinal cord manipulation. This worsening is usually temporary, and many patients make excellent recoveries. We present a case of a hydromor-phone pump inflammatory mass, which initially presented with increasing pain, then progressive neurologic deficits, requiring referral and mass resection. We achieved only a partial resection due to the lesion’s adherent nature. This surgical video demonstrates our intradural technique for resection of this rare and technically difficult mass, with 6-mo patient follow-up. The patient has consented to this case report.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E52
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Catheter-tip granuloma
  • Granuloma
  • Inflammatory mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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