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Now a pacemaker to keep migraine at bay

Now a pacemaker to keep migraine at bay

Experts say only 40 people worldwide have undergone this procedure.

Mumbai: Pacemakers have been used for years to prevent heart attacks, but close to 40 people world-wide have taken part in a study to use the same technology to deal with migraines.

One such a case is 42-year-old Tilak Lodaya, a migraine patient who claims that the technology is helping him stay in control of his life keeping his migraine at bay.

Lodaya, says, “Onn karne ke baad synchronize karta hoon, uske baad mera jitna pain hai usko usse control karta hoon (I synchronise remote with pacemaker and control pain).”

Lodaya, a transport businessman, has overcome a very severe form of migraine which he had had for twelve years, 250 days a year. Now he leads a life without painkillers and injections.

Lodaya says, “Yahan tak ki kal ghar jake sab tablets phek dale (I've thrown away all my medicines).”

In a path-breaking surgery, a pacemaker was installed in Lodaya chest and electrodes implanted on the greater occipital nerves behind his head, which is connected to an area in the brain involved in pain generation.

When Lodaya senses a migraine coming, using his remote, he activates the pacemaker to send electrical impulses which stimulate the nerves and subdue the pain.

Neurosurgeon, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai Dr Paresh Doshi says, “When you stimulate the greater occipital nerves, some chemicals are released in the brain which increase the pain threshold and decrease the pain.

The surgery can cost between five to seven lakh rupees and the pacemaker has to be replaced every 10 years.

Experts say so far only 40 other people worldwide have undergone this procedure and multi-center studies are underway in both the US and Australia to further assess its efficacy.

first published:October 21, 2008, 17:46 IST