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Intrathecal Chemotherapy


  • Intrathecal (in-trah-THEE-kal) chemotherapy (kee-moh-THER-ah-pee) (chemo) is one way to give chemotherapy. Intrathecal means that you are getting chemotherapy in your spinal canal. It is given by intralumbar (in-trah-LUM-bahr) injection (shot). This is when a needle that has chemotherapy in it is put into your spine. Your caregiver will then inject the medicine, and the needle will be removed.
  • Chemo may also be given into a ventricle (VEN-tri-kl) in your brain. To do this, your caregiver will place an Ommaya (oh-MEYE-ah) reservoir. An Ommaya reservoir is a special device that is placed under the scalp (skin covering your head). It allows chemotherapy to be delivered to the fluid around your spinal cord and brain. You will need to have surgery done to place an Ommaya reservoir. If you are receiving chemo for the first time, you may get it while you are a patient in the hospital. Your caregiver will watch you closely to see how your body handles the chemo. Caregivers will also take care of your Ommaya reservoir to prevent any problems with it.



  • Always take your medicine as directed by your caregiver. You may be given many different types of medicine to help with the side effects. If you feel your medicine is not helping or you are having side effects, let your caregiver know.
  • Know how to protect yourself from getting an infection while getting chemo. You should stay away from people who are sick with a cold, the flu or sore throat. You should also stay away from small children who have recently been vaccinated (VAK-si-nay-ted) for chicken pox or polio. Stay away from crowds, and crowded places. Your caregiver may give you more instructions about protecting yourself from infection.
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about preventing nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting (throwing up).
  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about decreasing or taking away your pain.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy products, meat, and fish. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat smaller meals, more often. Eat foods high in protein and calories, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Always check with your caregiver before starting a new diet. Ask your caregiver for more information about eating and drinking while being treated for cancer.

When is my next medical appointment?

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or no appetite for several days.
  • You are very tired and have no energy for several days.
  • You notice sores or white spots in your mouth.
  • You have constipation (hard, BMs less often than usual) or diarrhea (loose stools) for more than one day.
  • You bruise easily, or have small, red spots under your skin.
  • You have any unusual bleeding.
  • You have any signs or symptoms of infection, such as a high temperature, swelling, or pain.
  • You feel very sad for several days.
  • You feel like your heart is beating very fast.
  • You have frequent, painful urination.
  • You have a cough that is new, or that does not go away.


  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
  • You feel confused or have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • Your arms or legs are weak, or you have trouble walking or seeing.
  • You have increased neck pain, or pain in other areas.
  • You see swelling, feel pain, or have a hot feeling your arms or legs.
  • You see blood in your urine or BM's.
  • You feel dizzy or feel faint (like you are going to pass out).
  • You are bleeding and cannot get the bleeding to stop.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Intrathecal Chemotherapy (Aftercare Instructions)

Micromedex® Care Notes