Neurostimulator Implants and Migraines
One out of every eight people suffers from migraine headaches. There is currently no treatment available to eliminate the condition; doctors merely help patients manage the symptoms. A new treatment is being tested that may offer more pain relief than any other method to date for migraine sufferers.
In September 2006, reports began surfacing about a surgical procedure that may help migraineurs. Dr. Sandeep Amin, an anesthesiologist at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, Illinois, is pioneering a radical new treatment.
Dr. Amin is studying the potential of a treatment he calls “occipital nerve stimulation”. The treatment calls for the implantation of a small neurostimulator in the neck. This device sends electrical impulses to nerves under the skin at the base of the head at the back of the neck.
The device being used Dr. Amin’s nationwide, double-blind study is the Boston Scientific Precision neurostimulator. The Precision neurostimulator is the smallest rechargeable, implantable neurostimulator on the market (as of 2006) and is already FDA-approved for spinal stimulation for chronic pain treatment.
If the study is successful, it offers new hope to migraineurs, particularly those who have found their pain resistant to currently available treatment modalities.
Dr. Amin’s study is not the first. In 2004, Medtronic, Inc., a medical technology company, conducted a study of occipital nerve stimulation for migraines using one of their own devices. The study was initiated after a Dallas doctor successfully used the experimental treatment to relieve pain for a migraineur. A review of the company’s website, www.medtronic.com, showed no information on the study, making it likely that, for whatever reason, the 2004 study was unsuccessful.
Dr. Amin states that his treatment is not for everyone, and, if it is successful, recommends it only for patients who have been unable to achieve pain relief through medication or other, more common, treatment methods.