April 20, 2024
Elastomeric Infusion Pumps

Advances in Drug Delivery: The Rise of Elastomeric Infusion Pumps

Background on Elastomeric Infusion Systems

Elastomeric infusion pumps work by using a spring-loaded mechanism contained within a flexible bag to slowly and consistently administer medications such as antibiotics, analgesics, chemotherapy drugs, and other medications over extended periods of time, ranging from days to weeks. These infusion systems offer several advantages over traditional gravity-driven methods or electronic infusion pumps. The flexible external housing made of durable yet elastic medical-grade materials allows the pump to deform under pressure and then return to its original shape to maintain a positive pressure gradient and precise drug delivery rate.

Inside the external housing is a pre-filled reservoir bag made of biocompatible flexible materials like silicone or plastic. This reservoir contains the drug to be administered along with sterile water or saline solution. A spring-loading mechanism applies continuous pressure onto this reservoir, forcing the fluid contents out through the outlet port and intravenous tubing at a calibrated rate. The spring tension can be tailored during manufacturing to achieve the desired flow rate for hours up to 30 days on a single fill.

Advantages of Elastomeric Pumps

Portability and ambulatory drug delivery: Because Elastomeric Infusion Pumps are self-contained, foot-pump powered systems, they allow for truly ambulatory and portable drug administration. This mobility enables outpatient therapy and eases the transition from hospital to home. Patients can remain active and mobile during long-term infusions instead of being bedridden.

Continuous drug delivery: The constant, precise flow rate provided by these pumps mimics continuous intravenous therapy and prevents peaks and troughs in drug levels. This consistency helps improve therapeutic outcomes for conditions requiring steady-state drug concentrations.

Low maintenance: Once filled and primed, elastomeric pumps do not require any further intervention or attention from medical staff. The infusion proceeds automatically for days. This simplifies drug delivery especially for the home healthcare setting.

Cost-effectiveness: Being simple mechanical devices, elastomeric pumps cost a fraction of electronic infusion devices. Combined with ease of use and disposable nature, they reduce healthcare expenditures.

Applications in Infection Management

A major application of Elastomeric Infusion Pumps is in the outpatient treatment and management of difficult-to-treat infections that require lengthy intravenous antibiotic therapy. Various bacterial, fungal and parasitic diseases like osteomyelitis, endocarditis, meningitis often demand weeks of parenteral antimicrobial administration for cure. Traditionally, this meant recurrent daily trips to hospitals or clinics for IV therapy over several weeks, severely impacting quality of life.

With the ability to ambulate and continue normal activities, elastomeric pumps have enabled early transition to the outpatient setting. They improve antimicrobial adherence and compliance by allowing treatment to proceed at home. This has led to better treatment outcomes and cost savings from reduced hospitalization. Pumps prefilled with combination antibiotic regimens are commonly used Off-label for complicated soft tissue infections, joint/bone infections, and even TB therapy requiring multitudes of drugs.

Role in Cancer Care

Another expanding usage of elastomeric technology is for long-term ambulatory chemotherapy administration. Several chemotherapeutic agents including fluorouracil, melphalan, carboplatin are now available in elastomeric infusion pump formats for continuous subcutaneous delivery. This offers an alternative to intermittent intravenous bolus injections. Studies show comparable efficacy with reduced toxicity profiles and improved quality of life from lack of frequent hospital visits. Self-administered elastomeric pumps dispensing drugs over 1-4 weeks have had positive reception from patients.

Safety Considerations

While simple mechanical devices, elastomeric infusion pumps still warrant careful handling as with any medical equipment. Strict aseptic technique must be followed during filling and priming to prevent contamination. Air bubbles must be eliminated from the system prior to attachment. Operating instructions provided by manufacturers must be diligently followed regarding recommended patient populations, drug compatibilities, flow rates and treatment durations. Periodic pressure checks are advised to ensure consistent flow is maintained throughout therapy. Adverse events are typically related to occlusion of ports/tubing or mechanical issues and can usually be easily resolved. Overall, a good safety profile has been demonstrated when used as directed under medical supervision.

Evolving Applications
Patient-controlled analgesic pumps offering bolus doses of painkillers are a growing application. Continuous delivery of inotropes, vasopressors, insulin and other drugs also being attempted. Wearable “patch pump” designs and integration with smartphones envisaged to achieve true closed-loop drug delivery based on individual patient needs in the future. Further miniaturization and use of multiple reservoirs may expand treatment of chronic diseases. Overall, elastomeric infusion pumps hold promise as a disruptive yet affordable technology to decentralize healthcare and enhance access to therapy worldwide.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it