Occipital nerve stimulation for chronic headache - Long-term safety and efficacy

T. J. Schwedt, D. W. Dodick, J. Hentz, T. L. Trentman, R. S. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the safety and efficacy of occipital nerve stimulation for medically intractable headache. Electrical stimulation of large sensory afferents has an antinociceptive effect. Occipital nerve stimulation may be effective for the treatment of medically intractable headache. Retrospective analysis was performed of 15 patients with medically refractory headache who underwent implantation of an occipital nerve stimulator. Pre- and postimplant data regarding headache frequency, severity, disability, depression and poststimulator complications were collected. Twelve patients were female and three male. Ages ranged from 21 to 52 years (mean 39 years). Eight patients had chronic migraine, three chronic cluster, two hemicrania continua and two had post-traumatic headache. Eight patients underwent bilateral and seven had unilateral lead placement. Patients were measured after 5-42 months (mean 19). All six mean headache measures improved significantly from baseline (P < 0.03). Headache frequency per 90 days improved by 25 days from a baseline of 89 days; headache severity (0-10) improved 2.4 points from a baseline of 7.1 points; MIDAS disability improved 70 points from a baseline of 179 points; HIT-6 scores improved 11 points from a baseline of 71 points; BDI-II improved eight points from a baseline of 20 points; and the mean subjective percent change in pain was 52%. Most patients (60%) required lead revision within 1 year. One patient required generator revision. Occipital nerve stimulation may be effective in some patients with intractable headache. Surgical revisions may be commonly required. Safety and efficacy results from prospective, randomized, sham-controlled studies in patients with medically refractory headache are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-157
Number of pages5
JournalCephalalgia
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007

Keywords

  • Cluster headache
  • Hemicrania continua
  • Migraine
  • Occipital nerve stimulation
  • Post-traumatic headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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