Migraine treatment costs and medicine side-effects might be too much for some patients to handle. According to a new study, there is a small intervention that could eliminate the need for drugs in chronic migraine therapy.
The research was conducted by a team of clinicians at Albany Medical Center in collaboration with the State University New York Empire State College in Saratoga Springs. They tested an innovative interventional radiology treatment called image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks that has been found to ease the headaches of those suffering from chronic migraines. They wanted to see whether the treatment was efficient enough to require less medication after it had been done.
Kenneth Mandato, M.D., the study’s lead researcher and an interventional radiologist at Albany Medical Center explained that:
“Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guide, targeted, breakthrough treatments. They offer a patient-centered therapy that has the potential to break the migraine cycle and quickly improve patients’ quality of life.”
The study was a retrospective analysis of 112 patients, all of the being diagnosed with migraines or cluster headaches. Patients had to describe the pain they were feeling using a level system (on a scale from 1 to 10) called a visual analogue scale (VAS).
The patients received the minimally invasive treatment which involves a very thin and long catheter being inserted through the nasal passage. The nest step implies administering 4 percent lidocaine to the sphenopalatine ganglion which is a condensed group of nerves located posteriorly to the nose.
Before the treatment, the average VAS score reported by the participants was 8.25, with painful episodes, of an intensity higher than 4 on the scale, occurring 15 days per month. One day post-SPG block intervention, VGA scores were reduced by half (4.10). After 30 days, the average VAS score was only 5.25.
Furthermore, 88% of patients stated that they didn’t feel the need to take any more migraine medication or have used it less than before the having the intervention.
Despite this, Mandato feels that the SPG block should not be considered a cure for migraines, but a temporary solution, just like other current migraine treatments. However, as this is a minimally invasive and safe intervention, he believes SPG blocks can be repeated if necessary.
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