Migraine Headaches

Research indicates that 75% of people who experience migraines are women. It is therefore understandable why the Atlanta Interventional Institute, a leading Women’s Health Provider, is treating this condition effectively without any surgery.

Almost half of all women in this country (and ~18% of men) over their lifetime will suffer with migraines. The costs due to migraine are over $1 billion each year with $16 billion in lost productivity at work.

The POUND mnemonic is helpful in distinguishing migraine from other headache types:

P: Pulsatile quality with headaches that are often described as “throbbing” or “pounding”
O: One-day duration: episodes typically last 4-72 hours
U: Unilateral location
N: Nausea and/or vomiting
D: Disabling intensity, with patients having to alter/avoid regular activities during attacks

Most patients have premonitory symptoms that alert them of an upcoming attack. This often happens hours to minutes before the migraine and include: heightened sensitivity to light, sound, or odors, lethargy or uncontrolled yawning, mood changes, anorexia, excessive thirst and polyuria. A visual aura is very common which can occur just prior or during a migraine attack.

Behavioral modification (avoiding dietary triggers, educational intervention, etc.), prescription medicines, and surgery are all being used to try to treat this condition with mixed results. Many patients stop taking their prescription medication due to poor results, cost, or unwanted side-effects.

At the Atlanta Interventional Institute, we take a different approach. The procedure we perform is called SPG nerve block. This procedure is very simple and safe, takes ~10-15 minutes to perform, does not require any needles, and the patient goes home right after the procedure.

The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is a collection of nerves which are vital to the transmission of signals that are responsible for the majority of the major type of headaches, including migraines. These signals can be interrupted temporarily with the application of a local anesthetic applied directly to the SPG.

For patients of Atlanta Interventional Institute, this procedure is performed with the patient lying on their back with their head slightly extended. A tiny soft catheter is placed in to each nostril under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance to a particular area just above the ganglion where local anesthetic (lidocaine) is injected through the tube (no needle) on top of the SPG. Once the injection of the anesthetic is made in to each nostril, the catheter is removed, and the patient remains flat for ~10 minutes to allow absorption of the anesthetic by the SPG. The entire procedure therefore takes 10-15 minutes, does not involve any needles whatsoever, and the patient leaves the Center right after the procedure to resume normal activities.

If you suffer from migraine headaches regularly, and wish to reduce or eliminate your migraines, please contact the office of John C. Lipman, MD, FSIR to make an appointment.  You can call (770) 953-2600, or use the contact form on this web site.  Dr. Lipman is located in Atlanta, Georgia, approximately 25 minutes from the airport, and his staff can help with travel arrangements for out-of-town patients.