An implantable infusion pump is prolonging survival in hepatic cancer, both primary and metastatic.
The pump delivers 100 to 400 times the amount of floxuridine that the liver receives through conventional systemic chemotherapy—without the life-threatening side effects, as only 2% of the drug reaches the systemic circulation. Surgery to implant the pump is somewhat tricky, but ten to 14 days afterwards, patients go home and, if their disease is not too advanced, resume normal lives.
The pump, manufactured by Infusaid Corporation, Sharon, Mass, was originally developed by the University of Minnesota's biomedical engineering department for the administration of heparin; it also has been used for insulin delivery. At the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, William D. Ensminger, MD, PhD, associate professor of internal medicine and Burroughs Wellcome Scholar in Clinical Pharmacology, and John Niederhuber, MD, head, Division of Surgical Oncology, began using the device for chemotherapy administration about