BACKGROUND: Chronic headaches are the second most prevalent disease and second most common cause for years lived with disability worldwide. Occipital neuralgia can cause headaches or be present in addition to other more prevalent causes of headache. If these headaches fail to respond to conservative and pharmacological therapy, physicians proceed to more invasive treatments, starting with infiltration of the greater occipital nerve with local anesthetic with or without corticosteroids, followed by nerve ablation or stimulation. Occipital nerve stimulation gained more popularity as the technology improved and more pain physicians received training on interventional procedures.METHODS: In this manuscript, we are presenting our experience with ultrasound-guided implant of occipital nerve stimulators using peripheral nerve stimulator systems. After confirming appropriateness of treatment by a successful occipital nerve block (i.e., resulting in >50% relief in patients' pain intensity), we implanted five stimulator systems in three patients (two bilateral).RESULTS: We followed these patients for an average of eight months, and the average pain reduction was 50%. We did not observe any adverse events during or immediately after surgery. One patient developed an adverse reaction to the adhesive of the battery transmitter, but it was not severe enough to stop her from using the stimulator.CONCLUSIONS: Considering the ease of implant and minimal side effects, implant of peripheral nerve stimulators to stimulate the occipital nerve is a promising treatment modality for patients with chronic headache who present with features of occipital neuralgia. However, wider use of this treatment modality is subject to further studies.
View details for DOI 10.1093/pm/pnaa083
View details for PubMedID 32804226