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Surgical treatment of migraine headaches.

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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002 Jun;109(7):2183-2189 This prospective study was conducted to investigate the role of removal of corrugator supercilii muscles, transection of the zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve, and temple soft-tissue repositioning in the treatment of migraine headaches. Using the criteria set forth by the International Headache Society, the research team's neurologist evaluated patients with moderate to severe migraine headaches, to confirm the diagnosis. Subsequently, the patients completed a comprehensive migraine headaches questionnaire and the team's plastic surgeon injected 25 units of botulinum toxin type A (Botox) into each corrugator supercilii muscle. The patients were asked to maintain an accurate diary of their migraine headaches and to complete a monthly questionnaire documenting pertinent information related to their headaches. Patients in whom the injection of Botox resulted in complete elimination of the migraine headaches then underwent resection of the corrugator supercilii muscles. Those who experienced only significant improvement underwent transection of the zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve with repositioning of the temple soft tissues, in addition to removal of the corrugator supercilii muscles. Once again, patients kept a detailed postoperative record of their headaches. Of the 29 patients included in the study, 24 were women and five were men, with an average age of 44.9 years (range, 24 to 63 years). Twenty-four of 29 patients (82.8 percent, p  <  0.001) reported a positive response to the injection of Botox, 16 (55.2 percent, p  <  0.001) observed complete elimination, eight (27.6 percent, p  <  0.04) experienced significant improvement (at least 50 percent reduction in intensity or severity), and five (17.2 percent, not significant) did not notice a change in their migraine headaches. Twenty-two of the 24 patients who had a favorable response to the injection of Botox underwent surgery, and 21 (95.5 percent, p  <  0.001) observed a postoperative improvement. Ten patients (45.5 percent, p  <  0.01) reported elimination of migraine headaches and 11 patients (50.0 percent, p  <  0.004) noted a considerable improvement. For the entire surgical group, the average intensity of the migraine headaches reduced from 8.9 to 4.1 on an analogue scale of 1 to 10, and the frequency of migraine headaches changed from an average of 5.2 per month to an average of 0.8 per month. For the group who only experienced an improvement, the intensity fell from 9.0 to 7.5 and the frequency was reduced from 5.6 to 1.0 per month. Only one patient (4.5 percent, not significant) did not notice any change. The follow-up ranged from 222 to 494 days, the average being 347 days. In conclusion, this study confirms the value of surgical treatment of migraine headaches, inasmuch as 21 of 22 patients benefited significantly from the surgery. It is also evident that injection of Botox is an extremely reliable predictor of surgical outcome. Comment: Many small placebo-controlled studies and much anecdotal literature suggests that botulinum toxin may be effective in prevention of migraine, perhaps to the same extent as conventional prophylactic treatment. Larger, randomized clinical trials are underway to resolve this issue. In the meantime, those who believe in the effectiveness of botulinum toxin prophylaxis argue about how it works, that is whether its antinociceptive properties are due to peripheral effects, central or presynaptic effects, or both. Dr. Guyuron's group favors the idea that botulinum toxin interrupts a reflex arc between the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral musculature, and that after establishing efficacy by low dose botulinum injection in the corrugator supercilii muscles, surgical resection of these muscles results in prolonged and effective prophylaxis. The idea is radical but intriguing and should not be dismissed out of hand. However, a trial is necessary in which both the botulinum toxin injections are blinded with vehicle, and the study of the surgery involves a sham surgery control group with extended long-term follow-up, before these forms of prophylaxis can be recommended to patients. SJT

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-03-01

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