Vagus nerve stimulator seems to work for acute migraines

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) seems to be effective for the treatment of migraine headaches. In my post over a year ago I mentioned our study of a device that stimulates vagus nerve with an external portable device. The results of this study were just presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The device was developed by scientists at ElectroCore, a small company following my publication of a study of implantable VNS in 6 patients. In the current study we included patients with migraine with or without aura. Participants acutely treated up to 4 migraine attacks with this portable VNS within 6 weeks. Treatment consisted of two, 90-second doses, at 15-minute intervals. Patients were asked to self-treat once pain became moderate or severe, or after 20 minutes of mild pain. Of 30 enrolled patients, 26 treated 79 migraine headaches. At two hours, 46 of 79 headaches (58%) responded, and in 22 out of 79 (28%) pain was completely gone. At two hours, 76 of 79 (96%) were improved or did not worsen. Of 26 patients 20 (77%) reported mild or nor pain at 2 hours, for at least one treated headache. Side effects were limited to muscle or skin irritation and two reports of lightheadedness, most of which resolved immediately after treatment, and all within two hours of treatment. These are very preliminary results, but they suggest that VNS may be an effective and well-tolerated acute treatment for migraine. Additional large clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.

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