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article imageNew treatment breakthrough for cluster headaches Special

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By Tim Sandle     May 15, 2013 in Health
A breakthrough procedure for the treatment of cluster headaches has been described in the medical journal of the American Association of oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. The treatment links such headaches to the skull.
A cluster headache is a condition that involves an immense degree of pain that is almost always on only one side of the head. They often trigger excruciating pain. Sufferers often call them 'suicidal headaches' because they're so severe.
The new research was led by Dr Elliot Shevel, Chairman of the South African branch of the International Headache Society. Dr. Shevel is a South African maxillo-facial and oral surgeon, best known for his contribution to understanding of the underlying processes involved in the pain of migraine. He has published widely and is a peer reviewer for Headache and other journals.
Unlike other medics, Dr Shevel stresses the importance of the extracranial (outside the skull) structures in triggering migraine.
The new procedure entails the ligation (‘making a tie’) of the internal maxillary artery. In order to assess the impact the study was performed on one chronic and four episodic cluster headache sufferers. According to the study: “The pain in Cluster Headache is ... most often is localized to the region supplied by the maxillary artery (MA), namely the peri-orbital, and orofacial areas”.
The chronic headache suffer has described the benefits in a video:
In addition, a cluster headache sufferer supplied his own video, where he describes the process:
Shevel’s paper concludes “In the treatment of CH, the possibility must always be borne in mind that the cluster stopped spontaneously, not because of the intervention, but because of the natural progression of the disease. This could not have been the case with patient 1 who had chronic CH. Also, the fact that the attacks stopped immediately after the surgery in 4 of 5 cases makes it statistically highly unlikely that all 4 happened to obtain spontaneous relief after surgery. What is also significant is that patient 4 had an attack that started during the surgery. Without prompting and without being aware of what stage the surgery had reached, he reported that the pain ceased at the moment the MA was clamped and cauterized”.
Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the South African Medical Association Research Ethics Committee.
According to Dr Shevel’s assistant, Kayleen Naidoo, when asked about the implications of the research summarized the implications of the latest study as: “Institutions, organizations, and medical professionals are encouraged to throw off old ideas that have not brought pain relief to desperate people, and embrace new modalities that are ending pain and restoring lives.”
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