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Monday, September 8, 2008

Indian offers hope of migraine cure

A new surgical procedure developed by a US-based Indian medical researcher could result in a possible new treatment for migraine headaches, one of the most painful neurological conditions known to mankind, and one that affect hundreds of millions around the world.

Dr Sandeep Amin, an ansthesiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Centre, has pioneered the use of what he calls “occipital nerve stimulation”, a surgical procedure in which an implanted neurostimulator delivers electrical impulses to nerves under the skin at the base of the head at the back of the neck. 

This may help migraine sufferers who do not respond to other available therapies, or who cannot tolerate the side effects of existing medications.

Says Amin: “Occipital nerve stimulation has the potential to provide relief to the large population of migraine sufferers who currently have no other medical treatments available to them that bring them relief.

If effective, the implantable neurostimulator would provide a new treatment option to free these patients from their long-standing headache pain.” 

The study is being called PRISM or Precision Implantable Stimulator for Migraine, and will involve 150 patients in a nationwide study led by Amin to be conducted at 15 research sites across the US.

“The purpose of the nationwide study is to evaluate the procedure’s safety and efficacy,” says Amin, who surgically implants the FDA-approved device in the two-visit operation.

Estimates by various agencies in the US suggest that the economic impact of migraine can be immense.

In the last such study conducted in 1994, the medical cost of migraine was calculated at over $1 billion while annual loss of productivity was estimated in the region of $13-17 billion. And these figures are just for US-based sufferers.

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