Acute Treatment of Intractable Migraine With Sphenopalatine Ganglion Electrical Stimulation

Tepper, et al. Headache. 2009 Jul;49(7):983-9.


We report preliminary results of a novel acute treatment for intractable migraine. The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) has sensorimotor and autonomic components and is involved in migraine pathophysiology.


In 11 patients with medically refractory migraine, the sphenopalatine fossa was accessed with a 20-gauge needle using the standard infrazygomatic transcoronoid approach under fluoroscopy. Patients underwent temporary unilateral electric stimulation of the SPG with a Medtronic 3057 test stimulation lead after induction of full-blown migraine. Both sham and active stimulations with different settings were carried out for < or =60 minutes, and then the lead was removed.


In 11 evaluations, 2 patients were pain-free within 3 minutes of stimulation. Three had pain reduction; 5 had no response; 1 was not stimulated. Five patients had no pain relief. Stimulation settings: mean amplitude of 1.2V, mean pulse rate of 67 Hz, mean pulse width of 462 micros. Lack of headache relief appeared linked to suboptimal lead placement, poor physiologic sensory response to localization stimulation, and diagnosis of medication overuse headache.


This study suggests a possible role for SPG stimulation in the treatment of refractory migraine headaches.

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