Migraine surgery is one of the newest methods in getting rid of chronic migraine. It is sought by individuals who have been suffering from migraines on a regular basis, particularly those that experience chronic migraine on a particular part of the head and neck for more than a few months already. While surgery is still considered to be the last resort for individuals with severe migraine issues, it has proven to give various significant positive long-term effects not only in reducing the frequency of migraine occurrences, but as well as in improving the health of patients who have undergone the procedure.
Kinds of Migraine Surgery
There are currently four types of recognized migraine surgery, and these include:
- Arterial surgery. Arterial surgery is conducted on patients who have been diagnosed with distended branches of the external carotid artery. Through a minimally invasive arterial surgery, the nerves in this artery are stimulated, while the artery itself is corrected in order to function normally. This is because problems with the external carotid artery usually give off vascular pain and long-term chronic migraine, and such issues can only be eliminated through surgery.
- Trigger site release. Aside from arterial surgery, trigger site release is also done as a form of migraine surgery. This type of procedure is performed on individuals who have not been diagnosed with arterial issues and are rather having migraine problems due to nerve irritation. The nerves are then stimulated and relaxed during this procedure, while at the same time the cause of inflammation is corrected. By reducing the swelling of the nerves in question, the migraine attacks in these areas are expected to be minimized until they are finally eliminated.
- Patent foramen ovale closure. Patent foramen ovale closure is a procedure conducted on individuals who are suffering from chronic migraine due to an open hole in the heart, known as foramen ovale. This hole is supposed to close naturally when a newborn baby starts to breathe, but those who were not able to have this process completed are then exposed to toxic circulation as they grow up. By having this problem corrected, individuals with chronic migraine are set free from such ordeal.
- Spinal cord stimulation. Spinal cord stimulation is conducted on individuals with severe migraine issues, like those suffering from multiple migraine attacks each month.
Benefits of Migraine Surgery
Migraine surgery offers a lot of benefits to individuals who have been suffering from severe migraine attacks for many years. For one, these procedures not only get rid of the migraine itself, they also get to address the factors that cause the headaches. The problems that set off migraines are often left unattended, and in turn they get to worsen without showing off other symptoms.
It is however important to get serious opinions coming from different medical experts before choosing to go through migraine surgery, as the procedures usually involve vital organs such as the brain, heart and the spinal cord. Conducting the wrong procedures may cause these organs to fail or malfunction, which may lead to more complicated health conditions and even death.
Chronic migraine can be a very difficult ordeal to handle, and while there are many ways to treat the condition, some people just don’t respond to such treatments. Persons who have been experiencing serious chronic migraine issues may then resort to migraine surgery in order to finally get rid of their migraines once and for all.
Migraine surgery is not an easy type of treatment; in fact, even today’s migraine experts do not recommend surgery unless otherwise necessary. This is because the surgery itself has not been recognized to be a conventional method to treat migraine. Migraine surgery still needs a lot of in-depth study, as there are cases in which patients have experienced harsh consequences after going through a surgical operation for their migraine problems.
Classification of Chronic Migraines
Chronic migraines are different from acute migraines not just because of the frequency of their occurrences. These migraines have become chronic if and when they occur on one particular trigger site each time they take place; they also tend to be more excruciating during each subsequent occurrence.
Chronic migraines are also caused by different reasons. Persons who suffer from chronic migraines may not only be exposed to stress or depression. There are instances when they are already suffering from certain underlying health problems that have not been properly diagnosed early on.
Persons with chronic migraines may also be suffering from heart defects, arterial malfunction or growths in the spine and cranial area. Some patients meanwhile suffer from migraines as an indication of diabetes.
Migraines may be classified as chronic when they have been taking place consistently within a few months. In this regard, pain can be felt on only a distinct area of the head and neck. Individuals may consult with a doctor to see what causes their migraines from taking place, so that they will be able to receive the treatment they need not only go get rid of the migraines, but more importantly to address their true conditions.
Candidates for Migraine Surgery
There are certain conditions in which a person with chronic migraine becomes a candidate for migraine surgery, and these include:
- Patent foramen ovale. Patent foramen ovale is a condition in which a hole in the heart was not able to close during childbirth. Newborn babies have a hole inside their heart which naturally closes once they learn to breathe. However, there are cases in which the hole was not able to close, and as a result it becomes an unnecessary pathway for air. Persons with the condition suffer from migraines because of the air going through this hole, and in turn they are required to undergo surgery to treat the defect.
- Distended external carotid artery. There are patients meanwhile who are suffering from a distended external carotid artery. In this condition they suffer from migraines because there is a dysfunction in the blood pathways, in which the blood gets clumped up in this section of the arterial map.
- Heavily distended nerves. Migraine is usually caused by distended nerves in the brain, and these are usually cramped and compressed by surrounding muscles. Persons who do not respond to conventional treatment to relax the affected nerves may then be good candidates for surgery.
- Growths and tumors. There are individuals who suffer from chronic migraines due to unwanted growths and tumors that take place in the spinal cord. These growths compress the nerves in the spinal area, and in turn cause migraines. Brain cancers are also a cause of migraine.
Types of Migraine Surgery
There are different types of migraine surgery, and they are performed based on the underlying cause of chronic migraine suffered y the patient. These include:
- Arterial surgery. In an arterial surgery, the external carotid artery is surgically opened and distended, so that the swelling of the artery will be properly treated and its effects reduced. This way, the surrounding nerves will be decompressed and in turn relax so that they can return to their normal functions.
- Patent foramen ovale surgery. This surgery is conducted to close the hole in the heart that causes the migraines. This operation lasts for an hour and is essential not only to get rid of the migraines, but as well as to improve the condition of the heart.
- Trigger site release. In the trigger site release, the affected nerves are decompressed so that they get to relax and reduce their swelling. A trigger site release procedure normally takes up to an hour to complete, and the migraine attacks are believed to be reduced at a significant rate.
- Removal of growths. In this operation, the growths are removed so that they will no longer cause nerve swelling and migraines. This surgical operation requires more time to complete, and is recommended on patients whose tumors are not yet severe.
Contrary to popular belief, migraine Botox is not a form of surgery. Indeed, Botox is recognized as a treatment for migraines, as the botolinum toxin solution is able to relax the trigger sites that cause migraines, and the effects of this method are quite long-lasting. However, since it does not require open incision and only a series of injections, Botox remains an alternative treatment. Persons suffering from chronic migraines may rely on Botox for treatment (although the costs for this procedure can be very expensive), especially those who do not have underlying organ problems which cause the headaches.
Effectiveness of Migraine Surgery
According to studies, most patients who have undergone migraine surgery were able to reduce their migraine problems by up to 70%. Chronic migraines become less frequent usually six months after the surgery, as the conditions that have been causing the headaches from taking place have already been properly addressed.
There are also cases in which patients were not able to get rid of their migraines after surgery. However, these cases are usually due to misdiagnosis; improper diagnosis which ended up with migraine surgery recommendations has resulted to complications such as paralysis and death.
Looking for a Migraine Surgeon
One of the most difficult tasks in pursuing migraine surgery is looking for a migraine surgeon. These surgeons are usually plastic surgeons, although they collaborate with other surgical experts when studying on patient cases.
When searching for a migraine surgeon, it is best to check out associations of migraine experts and other medical organizations that deal with migraine studies. Reputable migraine surgeons are usually active in such organizations, given the fact that there are only a few of them in the said field.
There are times when migraine surgeons can only be found in particular locations, such as New York and California. In this case, it is recommended to travel to their specific clinics in order to discuss your migraine issues with them, as well as your need for surgery. Traveling for migraine surgery is quite common, and it is definitely worth the effort.
When scouting for a migraine surgeon, it is recommended to review the doctor’s reputation first including the number of migraine surgeries he conducts each year and the effectiveness of the procedures on his patients. His affiliation with other organizations also proves to be useful. It is also a must to check if his license to do surgery is update, so you know that you are working with a legitimate medical expert.
Real migraine surgeons are also capable of giving the right advice to their patients; they conduct a second diagnosis to check if their patients are truly qualified for surgery, as they know that the procedure is truly risky.
Costs of Migraine Surgery
The costs of migraine surgery are definitely expensive. This is because the surgery itself can be complicated, not to mention that there are only a few surgeons who have delved in this line of treatment. Most migraine surgeons conduct operations in their respective clinics; however there are also those that can be found in medical centers and established hospitals.
The costs of migraine surgery soar up to $25,000, depending on the type of surgery to be performed by the doctor, as well as his collaborations with other medical experts. But these costs can be easily paid by means of different financial packages; patients will then be able to better prepare for their expenses during treatment.
One way to afford the costs of migraine surgery is through an insurance claim. Not all insurance companies recognize the value of migraine surgery however, thus the patient should take extra effort to make the claim deemed for medical purposes. There are also financial packages offered by third party affiliates that are tied up with surgeons, and they offer rather affordable ways to pay for the surgery.
If in case you want a more secure way of payment, then you may apply for a personal loan to pay the costs of surgery via whole sum. This way you can bypass the interest rates usually found in installment payments, which can be equally exorbitant. Surgical clinics also give discounts for cash payments, and as well give you extra care and treatment.