For some people who suffer from migraines, they say it's the worst pain they have ever experienced. Imagine what you would do if you suffered from a headache for nearly a decade. Marcie Fraser has more.
Patient Cassie Moore said, "It's worse than a migraine. Throbbing, stabbing, burning pain."
The headaches caused her to give up soccer and drop out of college. With no options left, she heard about an experimental procedure called a neuromodulator, where electrodes are placed over the headache nerves, above the eyebrow and in the back of her head. Dr. Martin Ferrillo, an Interventional Pain Management Specialist, placed temporary electrodes to see if she would find relief.
Ferrillo said, "The results are immediate. I put the electrodes in and pulled out the needle and immediately was able to drive a sensation over her pain and she was smiling on the table."
Moore said, "I didn't nap at all. I normally nap every day my life. I started exercising, doing crunches."
To place them permanently, you need a neurosurgeon.
Albany Medical Center Neurosurgeon Dr. Julie Pilitis said, "It's relatively minimally invasive. There has been work with stimulating deeper structures on the cortex of the brain, which is still an open skull procedure. And so the nice things about these are that they are in the subcutaneous tissue, just under the skin."
To permanently place the leads, an incision is made near each ear and within her hair line. The wires are connected to a transmitter which is placed in her back. Because it is so new, modifications do need to be made. Cassie pulled out one of her wires and another one needed to be lengthened.
Pilitis said, "There is a problem with them in migrating, in that there is not enough things to sew down to."
In time, the hope is that the leads will become scarred in and not migrate. The stimulation can be remotely turned up or down, which overrides her headaches.
Moore said, "When your foot falls asleep and prickles, that is what it feel like. It feels good."
The surgical risk is minor. Patients with leads cannot get MRIs, issues Cassie is fine with.
Moore said, "I never would exercise, I was out walking. It was a great feeling to be able to do stuff."