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AANS: Surgical Technique Eases Chronic Headache

Significant pain relief observed after implantation of cranial peripheral nerve stimulation system

TUESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic headaches that do not respond to conventional treatment, the surgical implantation of a cranial peripheral nerve stimulation system may provide relief, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in Chicago.

Robert M. Levy, M.D., Ph.D., of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues studied 32 patients who underwent three to four days of trial stimulation. Of these, 29 patients experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in pain, received a permanent implant and were followed for a minimum of two years.

Out of the 22 patients with complete outcome data, the researchers found that pain relief was good to excellent in 17 patients (77 percent). They removed the implant from three patients who did not respond to the treatment. The investigators also found that device malfunctions requiring system adjustment occurred in nine patients (41 percent) and that other complications included two episodes of electrode erosion through the skin and one infection associated with erosion.

"Overall results of our two-year study indicate that cranial peripheral nerve stimulation holds promise for treatment of intractable headaches in select patients who have tried other conservative treatment methods that have failed to provide relief," Levy said in a statement.

Financial relationships with ANS/St. Jude and Northstar Neuroscience in relation to this study have been disclosed.

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