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Low frequency activation of the sphenopalatine ganglion does not induce migraine-like attacks in migraine patients

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: Cephalic autonomic symptoms occur in 27‒73% of migraine patients during attacks. The role of parasympathetic activation in migraine attack initiation remains elusive. Low frequency stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion increases parasympathetic outflow. In this study, we hypothesized that low frequency stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion would provoke migraine-like attacks in migraine patients.

METHODS: In a double-blind randomized sham-controlled crossover study, 12 migraine patients with a sphenopalatine ganglion neurostimulator received low frequency or sham stimulation for 30 min on two separate days. We recorded headache characteristics, cephalic autonomic symptoms, ipsilateral mechanical perception and pain thresholds, mean blood flow velocity in the middle cerebral artery (VMCA) and diameter of the superficial temporal artery during and after stimulation.

RESULTS: Five patients (42%) reported a migraine-like attack after low frequency stimulation compared to six patients (50%) after sham (p = 1.000). We found a significant increase in mechanical detection thresholds during low frequency stimulation compared to baseline (p = 0.007). Occurrence of cephalic autonomic symptoms and changes in mechanical perception thresholds, VMCA and diameter of the superficial temporal artery showed no difference between low frequency stimulation compared to sham (p = 0.533).

CONCLUSION: Low frequency stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion did not induce migraine-like attacks or autonomic symptoms in migraine patients. These data suggest that increased parasympathetic outflow by the sphenopalatine ganglion neurostimulator does not initiate migraine-like attacks. Study protocol: ClinicalTrials.gov registration number NCT02510742.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCephalalgia : an international journal of headache
Volume40
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)966-977
Number of pages12
ISSN0333-1024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • autonomic nervous system, cephalic autonomic symptoms, headache model, Migraine, neurostimulation, sphenopalatine ganglion

ID: 60053159