Cluster headaches are often called "suicide headaches" because of their intense pain, paralyzing suffers for 15 minutes to three hours at a time.
Dr. Brad Otto, sinus surgeon and director of rhinology in the Department of Otolaryngology at Ohio State, has a possible solution. Otto, in the first surgery of its kind in the U.S. at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, has inserted a neurostimulator into the gum of patient Paul Alterio, the first patient in a clinical trial.
- The device, made by Autonomic Technologies Inc., connects to a nerve bundle behind the nose, known to play a major role in severe headaches.
- When patients feel the pain coming on they hold a remote controller to their cheek to block the pain signals.
During this clinical trial, doctors will insert the transmitters into 120 patients. An estimated 400,000 people in the United States suffer from cluster headaches.