A Guide To The Use Of Arterial Ligation And Nerve Decompression Surgeries For Migraines

Posted on: 14 July 2017


Given that research suggests that more than 37 million people in the United States suffer from migraines and as many as three million of those persons experience at least one migraine a month, it's obvious that standard medical treatment isn't always sufficient. When medications, such as those in the triptan family, pain meds, anti-depressants, etc. aren't providing adequate, consistent relief, it's a good idea to speak with your physician about surgical interventions. Two common migraine surgeries are arterial ligation and nerve decompression, both of which are explained below.

Understanding Arterial Ligation

Arterial ligation is usually provided as an outpatient procedure and can even be provided in the doctor's office. It is a minimally invasive treatment that consists of cutting off the blood supply to certain blood vessels, such as those associated with the external carotid artery. It was used successfully for treating cluster headaches for some time and in recent years, has become a viable option for treating specific types of migraines and migraine pain.

In general, if you have trigger spots on your scalp, head or face that act as pressure relief spots when properly manipulated during a migraine, you might benefit from arterial ligation. That is because when your trigger spots have been noted, it is easier for your physician to know which blood vessels need to be cauterized. When blood flow to a specific area is reduced or eliminated, many migraine sufferers will experience similarly decreased pain. 

Learning About Nerve Decompression

Nerve decompression surgery is similar to arterial ligation in that it targets trigger points and is often accessible without the need to stay overnight in a hospital. However, one big difference is that the efforts of nerve decompression concentrate on the known trigger points for migraines, as opposed to those that might vary from one migraine sufferer to the next. Known trigger points for migraines are found inside the nose and just above the eyebrows. In addition, they can be found within the neck and even within the temples. 

Another difference is that nerve decompression does not stop blood flow to the affected nerves, nor does it use cauterization for any purpose. Instead, it seeks to reduce the likelihood of future migraines and treat existing symptoms by separating affected nerves from the surrounding tissue. 

In conclusion, migraine headaches can be both debilitating and chronic, resulting in a reduced quality of life for both migraine sufferers and everyone around them. If your migraines persist, despite the use of medication, it's time to talk with a doctor at a clinic like Northeastern Migraine Surgery Center to discuss your treatment options.