What difference would it make in your life if you could delete some or all of the pain in two thirds of your cluster headache attacks? A small device, smaller than an almond, may be able to do just that.Back in 2013 we discussed a neurostimulation device targeting the sphenopalatine ganglion, a cluster of nerves behind the nose that is closely related to both cluster and migraine pain.
The small device was used on 5000 cluster attacks over 3 years. 33 patients completed the study.
Overall, the device (called the Pulsante SPG Microstimulator System) either eliminated or reduced the pain in 68% of attacks. Within 15 minutes, pain was totally eliminated in 34% of the attacks.
Obviously we want to get rid of every attack, but for a new device treating a very difficult condition, these results are excellent. The device seemed to eliminate or reduce most pain in moderate attacks (78%), with a response rate of 59% in mild attacks and 51% in severe attacks.
So far, the device seems to be fairly safe. However, there have been some challenges – making sure the device is properly implanted, and that it stays there, for example.
But as we continue to use devices like this, we can expect to see improvement. Pulsante is already being used in Europe.
You may remember that we were talking about the sphenopalatine ganglion back in March, related to migraine pain. If minimally invasive treatments like this can significantly decrease the pain of cluster, they may have benefits for headache from migraine and other types of headache pain.
For more information on this latest report, see AAN: Facial nerve stimulator relieves cluster headaches.