Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation for acute treatment of high-frequency and chronic migraine: an open-label study

Piero Barbanti, Licia Grazzi, Gabriella Egeo, Anna Maria Padovan, Eric Liebler, Gennaro Bussone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The treatment of migraine headache is challenging given the lack of a standardized approach to care, unsatisfactory response rates, and medication overuse. Neuromodulation therapy has gained interest as an alternative to pharmacologic therapy for primary headache disorders. This study investigated the effects of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) in patients with high-frequency episodic migraine (HFEM) and chronic migraine (CM). Findings: In this open-label, single-arm, multicenter study, patients with HFEM or CM self-treated up to 3 consecutive mild or moderate migraine attacks that occurred during a 2-week period by delivering two 120-s doses of nVNS at 3-min intervals to the right cervical branch of the vagus nerve. Of the 50 migraineurs enrolled (CM/HFEM: 36/14), 48 treated 131 attacks. The proportion of patients reporting pain relief, defined as a ≥50 % reduction in visual analog scale (VAS) score, was 56.3 % at 1 h and 64.6 % at 2 h. Of these patients, 35.4 % and 39.6 % achieved pain-free status (VAS = 0) at 1 and 2 h, respectively. When all attacks (N = 131) were considered, the pain-relief rate was 38.2 % at 1 h and 51.1 % at 2 h, whereas the pain-free rate was 17.6 % at 1 h and 22.9 % at 2 h. Treatment with nVNS was safe and well tolerated. Conclusion: Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation may be effective as acute treatment for HFEM or CM and may help to reduce medication overuse and medication-associated adverse events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Acute treatment
  • Disability
  • Migraine
  • Neuromodulation
  • Patient preference
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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