London: Just flicking a switch can nowease the agony of cluster headaches, claims an Indian-origindoctor-led team which has pioneered the new method of dealingwith the debilitating condition. Dr Manjit Matharu and his team at National Hospitalfor Neurology and Neurosurgery in London says that suffererscan now ease their pain using a hand-held remote control whichsends a charge to an electrode implanted in the head.
According to the doctors, the latest technique, knownas Occipital Nerve Stimulation (ONS), works on the same nerve.The procedure involves two tiny electrodes being inserted atthe back of the head -- one under each branch of the nerve,either side of the head, a newspaper reported. Then, under general anaesthetic, an electricitygenerator, the size of a thin pocketwatch, is implanted intothe skin in either abdomen or upper chest. This is connectedby wires tunnelled under the skin to the electrodes. After an overnight stay, the generator is switched onand patients can usually go home the next day. The electricalcurrent is controlled by a small remote control carried bypatients, say the doctors.
The device lasts indefinitely but batteries will needchanging after eight years. There are no major side effects,although some patients have reported some temporary, localisedpain where the generator is placed. Dr Matharu`s team has treated 150 patients sufferingwith extreme headaches and observed positive results. "We are seeing success rates of about 80 per cent inpeople who`re not responding to other traditional treatments.No one knows when NICE is going to review the treatment, butit is possible to be referred to us if the pain is severeenough," Dr Matharu said. PTI
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