It’s fascinating just how many potential applications there are for implantable pulse generators. Over the last 10 years, neurostimulation has been widely used for severe back and muscle pain control. One evolving application is for chronic migraine relief. It estimated that over 11% of the U.S. population suffers from migraines. Out of this number, 4% have chronic migraines and could be candidates for the treatment, representing a huge market potential.
The procedure surgically implants electrodes in either (or both) the occipital nerve or the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a nerve bundle located on either side of the face under the cheek bones. Other studies have focused on the vagus nerve. Similar to a pacemaker, the pulse generator is implanted under the collarbone.
One study showed that the SPG stimulation resulted in complete resolution of the headache in 11 of 18 attacks after several minutes of stimulation. When neurostimulation was used on both the occipital and supraorbital nerves, follow-up studies (ranging from 1 to 35 months) showed that all patients reported a full therapeutic response to the combined stimulation.
Hopefully the devices in clinical trials will be FDA approved for use in the U.S. As for hospitals and physicians, there are multiple CPT and APC codes already in place for neurostimulation. Depending on the cost of the technology and the payment level, this could be an excellent new product line for providers, which is great news for both patients and hospitals.