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    Medically refractory chronic cluster headache (CH) is a severely disabling headache condition for which several surgical procedures have been proposed as a prophylactic treatment. None of them have been evaluated in controlled conditions, only open studies and case series being available. Destructive procedures (radiofrequency lesioning, radiosurgery, section) and microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve or the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) have induced short-term improvement which did not maintain on long term in most of the patients. They carried a high risk of complications, including severe sensory loss and neuropathic pain, and consequently should not be proposed in first intention.Deep brain stimulation (DBS), targeting the presumed CH generator in the retro-hypothalamic region or fibers connecting it, decreased the attack frequency >50 in 60 % of the 52 patients reported. Complications were infrequent: gaze disturbances, autonomic disturbances, and intracranial hemorrhage (2).Occipital nerve stimulation (ONS) was efficient (decrease of attack frequency >50 %) in about 70 % of the 60 patients reported, with a low risk of complications (essentially hardware related). Considering their respective risks, ONS should be proposed first and DBS only in case of ONS failure.New on-demand chronically implanted SPG stimulation seemed to be efficient to abort CH attacks in a pilot controlled trial, but its long-term safety needs to be further studied.

    Citation

    Denys Fontaine, Clair Vandersteen, Delphine Magis, Michel Lanteri-Minet. Neuromodulation in cluster headache. Advances and technical standards in neurosurgery. 2015;42:3-21

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    PMID: 25411142

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