Hospital is one of only two test sites in United States
NEW YORK, NY – Like most people who suffer from cluster headaches, 45-year-old Jeffrey Skonieczny from Southbridge, MA, knows the warning signs of an upcoming attack all too well – an intense, stabbing pain in his eye that would leave him debilitated up to five times a day. His headaches had become so severe he has been unable to work since last year.
But now Lenox Hill Hospital is using a new device that can potentially stop his excruciating pain as easily as flicking a switch.
Peter D. Costantino, MD, Executive Director of the New York Head & Neck Institute and a renowned skull based surgeon, is using a minimally invasive surgical technique to implant a tiny neurostimulation device, between Mr. Skonieczny’s cheek and gum and into a bundle of nerves at the skull base called the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) which is known to play a major role in severe headaches. A wire is attached to the device that connects directly to the nerves that cause the pain.
After the outpatient procedure, which leaves no visible scars, patients can treat their crippling pain on-demand by placing a handheld remote control on their check over the neurostimulator. Now whenever Mr. Skonieczny feels the onset of a headache he can activate the neurostimulator which blocks the communication between the nerves.
“This technology has the ability to change people’s lives.” “I am very motivated to help these patients as I suffered from cluster headaches early in my career,” said Dr. Costantino. “A cluster headache is among one of the most severe and disabling chronic pain out there, often referred to as a ‘suicide headache’ because the pain is so intense.” “Results have shown that patients had great improvements in quality of life with this new device.”
During trials of the device in Europe, 67 percent of cluster headache patients had their pain relieved within 15 minutes. A recent study examining the long-term safety and efficacy of the neurostimulator device in alleviating cluster headache pain showed that two thirds of more than 5,000 cluster headache attacks evaluated during long-term follow-up were effectively treated.
It’s estimated that nearly 400,000 people in the United States suffer from cluster headaches, similar to the number of people affected by Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The headaches can occur many times each day, with each one lasting from 15 minutes to three hours.
The New York Head and Neck Institute and Lenox Hill Hospital, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is one of only two test sites for this device in the United States.
For more information call North Shore-LIJ’s New York Head & Neck Institute’s Research group at (212) 434-3643 or email [email protected]