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
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
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.