ATLANTA, March 2 (UPI) -- According to physicians at Albany Medical Center, in New York, a new minimally invasive intervention for patients dealing with recurring migraines was able to reduce the severity of symptoms and diminish the need for migraine meds.
The doctors, who partnered with researchers at University New York Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, shared the details of the new treatment on Monday at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology, held in Atlanta.
The treatment involves the administration of 4 percent lidocaine, a common local anesthetic, to the sphenopalatine ganglion, a nerve bundle located just behind the nasal cavity that is strongly associated with migraines. The numbing solution is delivered via a spaghetti-sized catheter extended through the nasal passage.
"Migraine headaches are one of the most common, debilitating diseases in the United States, and the cost and side effects of medicine to address migraines can be overwhelming," lead researcher Kenneth Mandato said in a press release. "Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guided, targeted, breakthrough treatments."
Doctors had patients rate the degree of debilitation from their headache symptoms using a visual analogue scale, a psychometric response scale sliding between two end points (in this case 1 and 10). Before treatment, 112 patients gave an average rating of 8.25. Immediately after treatment, that number was 4.1; a month later, it was 5.25.
"Administration of lidocaine to the sphenopalatine ganglion acts as a 'reset button' for the brain's migraine circuitry," added Mandato. "When the initial numbing of the lidocaine wears off, the migraine trigger seems to no longer have the maximum effect that it once did. Some patients have reported immediate relief and are making fewer trips to the hospital for emergency headache medicine."
In future studies, Mandato and his colleagues plan to plot the treatment's long-term efficacy, as well as measure the treatment's effectiveness in more rigorous detail.