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Implanted Neurostimulation Device Treats Cluster Headaches

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 31 Aug 2014
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Image: The ATI Neurostimulation System (Photo courtesy of Autonomic Technologies).
Image: The ATI Neurostimulation System (Photo courtesy of Autonomic Technologies).
A miniaturized, multichannel, peripheral nerve stimulator, smaller than an almond, could provide relief from cluster headaches, which are more painful than migraines.

The ATI Neurostimulation System is an implantable rechargeable neurostimulator that delivers low level energy to stimulate the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a nerve bundle that is known to play a major role in severe headaches. The implant is inserted through a small incision in the upper gum, just above the second molar, and is positioned at the SPG nerve bundle, located deep in the face on either side of the nose; the neurostimulator is placed on the same side of the patient’s headache pain.

The system includes the neurostimulator, with an integral lead that fits a range of facial anatomies and an external remote control with simple therapy controls to provide on-demand patient-controlled SPG stimulation therapy when held up to the cheek. System settings are individualized and can be adjusted using a customized laptop computer. After a headache is treated, the remote controller is simply moved away from the cheek, turning off stimulation therapy. The ATI Neurostimulation System is a product of Autonomic Technologies (ATI; Redwood City, CA, USA), and has received the European Community (CE) marking of approval.

“The beauty of the device is that there are no internal batteries or other structures that need to be routinely removed,” said sinus surgeon Bradley Otto, MD, director of rhinology at the department of otolaryngology at Ohio State University (OSU; Columbus, USA), who performed the first surgery in the United States. “So once we make the incision in the mouth and we place this device back behind the cheek sinus, it can be left forever.”

Cluster headaches are a highly disabling chronic neurological condition characterized by intense stabbing pain in the area of one eye, often accompanied by swelling, tears, and nasal congestion. Patients suffering from cluster headache may experience multiple attacks daily or almost daily, with each attack lasting between 15 minutes and three hours. Often called “suicide headaches” because of their severity, it is estimated that over 600,000 people across Europe alone suffer from the condition.

Related Links:

Autonomic Technologies
Ohio State University

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