Pearls and pitfalls: Neurostimulation in headache

Jurgens, et al. Cephalalgia. 2013 Jun;33(8):512-25.


A variety of neuromodulatory approaches available today has broadened our therapeutic options significantly especially in drug refractory patients with chronic cluster headache and chronic migraine.


It is a dynamic field with a current trend to non-invasive transcutaneous stimulation approaches. However, sound studies providing evidence for the widespread use of these novel approaches are sparse. For invasive approaches, occipital nerve stimulation is now widely considered the treatment of first choice in chronic trigeminal autonomic cephalgias and – with limitations – chronic migraine. Although equally effective, deep brain stimulation is considered second-line treatment in cluster headache because of its potentially life-threatening side effects. Most recently, stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion has also been shown to effectively abort acute cluster headache attacks. Interesting other upcoming approaches include transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation and transcutaneous vagal nerve stimulation.


Pearls and pitfalls of common invasive and non-invasive neuromodulatory approaches and open questions are summarised in this review along with recommendations for future studies.

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