The limits of the PFO solution

A couple of weeks ago I heard a radio interview with one of the people researching patent foramen ovale surgery (PFO) as a treatment for migraine.  Listening to the interview, you would think that this may be the long sought for "cure" for migraine.  And so, people are lining up to get the surgery as soon as some of the current trials are completed.

Before we get too excited, we need to be aware of some of the limitations of this possible treatment.  All migraineurs do not have the heart-flaw that this surgery deals with.  Therefore, this is not the ultimate cure for migraine.  As I see it, there are two limited benefits that may come from this research:

1. It may, in some cases, greatly diminish or eliminate migraine symptoms in some people.  This is a great thing to hope for!
2. Learning more about why this surgery impacts migraineurs may give us important insights into what exactly migraine is and what triggers it.  This is a long term benefit, but a very important one.

In other words, we can all have hope for this research, even though it may not mean a sudden solution to all our problems.  If you want an excellent overview of the PFO treatment and migraine, read this article in Science News Online from February 19th, entitled Against the Migraine.  Here’s my last post on PFO and migraine for more.

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