Scientific publications

Peripheral nerve stimulation in the treatment of various types of headache

Dec 1, 2011 | Magazine: Revista Española de Anestesiología y Reanimación

Abejón D, Calvo R, Arranz J, Pérez-Cajaraville J, del Saz J, Aguierre-Jaime

Headache has a great impact on patients' quality of life and in industrialized countries there is economic impact as well. One of the pathophysiologic theories to explain headache is activation of afferent C2-C3 nerve fibers. Afferent peripheral nerve stimulation by occipital nerve provocation at C2-C3 seems to alleviate headache by acting on the trigeminocervical complex, which would largely explain the effectiveness of this modality. The aim of this study was to describe peripheral nerve stimulation as an alternative therapy in patients who do not respond to other headache treatments.

Multicenter retrospective study between April 2005 and May 2009, analyzing cases of patients treated with nerve stimulation for severe chronic headache. In all patients the medical history included type of headache, intensity of pain on a numerical scale, medical treatment used, and number of headache episodes. We recorded the percentage of patients with negative tests. Patients implanted with a generator assessed effectiveness on the numerical scale; we analyzed the percentage of perceived improvement at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. We also analyzed the extent of coverage provided by the electrodes, patient satisfaction, reduction in the number of episodes and medication, and complications.

Of 31 patients, 87% had positive results, with a significant decrease in pain from baseline (P < .001); 85.2% reported sustained improvement of > 50%, and 96.3% reported a decrease of > 2 points on the pain scale. All patients expressed satisfaction during the period of follow-up. Fifty-six percent had no headaches after a year and 47% had stopped taking medication. The most frequent complication was electrode migration.

CITATION  Rev Esp Anestesiol Reanim. 2011 Dec;58(10):589-94