Costs of hypothalamic stimulation in chronic drug-resistant cluster headache: Preliminary data

M. Leone, A. Franzini, A. Proietti Cecchini, E. Mea, G. Broggi, G. Bussone

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In about 20% of chronic cluster headache (CH) cases, drugs may become ineffective. Under these circumstances, steroids and triptans are frequently employed leading to fearful side effects in one and high costs in the other. The direct costs of drug-resistant chronic CH are mainly due to frequent medical consultations and frequent use of expensive drugs. In recent years, hypothalamic stimulation has been employed to treat drug-resistant chronic CH patients suffering multiple daily attacks and long-term results from different centres show a 60% overall benefit. Nine years since the introduction of this technique, we attempt a preliminary analysis of the direct costs of hypothalamic stimulation based on patients treated at our centre. We estimated the following direct costs as follows: cost of neurosurgery plus cost of equipment (electrode, connection and impulse generator = 25,000 euro), cost of hospital admissions in long-term follow-up (2,000 euro per admission), cost of single sumatriptan injection (25 euro). Number of daily sumatriptan injections in the year before and for each year after hypothalamic implantation was obtained from headache diaries. To estimate the saving due to the reduction in sumatriptan consumption following hypothalamic stimulation, we calculated the following for each year of follow-up after surgery: number of sumatriptan injections in the year before surgery minus number of sumatriptan injections in each year, updated to December 2008. In our 19 implanted patients, the costs of neurosurgery plus cost of equipment were 475,000 euro; the costs of hospital admissions during follow up were 250,000 euro. Reduction in sumatriptan consumption resulted in a total saving of 3,573,125 euro. Hence, in our 19 patients, the sumatriptan saving (3,573,125 euros) minus the direct costs due to operation and follow up hospitalisations (475,000 ± 250,000) euro is equal to 2,848,125 euros. These preliminary results indicate that hypothalamic stimulation is associated with marked reduction of direct costs in the management of complete drug-resistant chronic CH.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Cluster headache
  • Costs
  • Hypothalamic stimulation
  • Intractable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology


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