Deep brain stimulation and cluster headache

M. Leone, A. Franzini, G. Felisati, E. Mea, M. Curone, V. Tullo, G. Broggi, G. Bussone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, neuroimaging data have greatly improved the knowledge on trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias' (TACs) central mechanisms. Positron emission tomography studies have shown that the posterior inferior hypothalamic grey matter is activated during cluster headache attacks as well as in short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing (SUNCT). Voxel-based morphometric MRI has also documented alteration in the same area in cluster headache patients. These data suggest that the cluster headache generator is located in this region and leads us to hypothesise that stimulation of this brain area could relieve intractable cluster headache just as deep brain stimulation improves intractable movements disorders. This view received support by the observation that high frequency stimulation of the ipsilateral hypothalamus prevented attacks in an otherwise intractable chronic cluster headache patient previously treated unsuccessfully by surgical procedures to the trigeminal nerve. So far, 16 patients with intractable cronic cluster headache (CCH) and one intractable SUNCT patient have been successfully treated by hypothalamic stimulation. The procedures were well tolerated with no significant adverse events. Hypothalamic DBS is an efficacious and safe procedure to relieve otherwise intractable CCH and SUNCT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Cluster headache
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Paroxysmal hemicrania
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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