Migraine Surgery: An All or Nothing Phenomenon? Prospective Evaluation of Surgical Outcomes.

Journal: Annals Of Surgery

Objective: A detailed analysis of outcomes after migraine surgery suggests an anatomic etiology of pain, such as peripheral nerve compression, in select patients.

Background: Historically, surgeons have not played a role in the treatment of migraine. However, a subgroup of patients with extracranial anatomic triggers appear to benefit from surgical intervention. Traditionally, the determination of success or failure of migraine surgery is based on whether there is greater or less than 50% improvement of the migraine headache index (MHI) after surgery. However, in this study, patients either did not respond to treatment (≤5%) or improved completely (≥80%). Detailed analysis is provided of this surprising finding.

Methods: Subjects completed a prospective migraine questionnaire preoperatively as well as at 3 and 12 months postoperatively.

Results: All variables improved significantly from baseline. Interestingly, in 83% of patients, the MHI improved either ≥80% or ≤5%, suggesting a more binary distribution. Only 17% of indices fell in the intermediate (5% to 80%) range. Moreover, 69% of patients had ≥80% improvement resulting in a mean improvement of 96% in this group. The remaining 14% had ≤5% improvement, with an average improvement of 0%.

Conclusion: Migraine surgery remains controversial. Traditional conservative therapy targets the central theory of migraine propagation. This study again prospectively demonstrates the efficacy of surgical trigger site deactivation in migraine patients. Patients either failed to improve or improved after surgery, with few intermediate outcomes. The binary distribution of data lends further support to an anatomic etiology of pain, that is, peripheral nerve compression, in select patients.

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