Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Surgery brings relief for chronic migraines for one patient

Date:
January 9, 2014
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
Meredith Messerli’s dream of attending college seemed out of reach a year ago. Debilitating migraine headaches forced her to miss two years of high school and retreat to the shutter-darkened confines of her Flower Mound home as her family searched frantically for a therapy that would work.

Shelly Messerli, top, looks on as Dr. Bardia Amirlak examines her daughter Meredith Messerli, an 18-year-old college student whose debilitating migraine headaches ended following nerve decompression surgery this past summer at UT Southwestern.
Credit: UT Southwestern

Meredith Messerli's dream of attending college seemed out of reach a year ago. Debilitating migraine headaches forced her to miss two years of high school and retreat to the shutter-darkened confines of her Flower Mound home as her family searched frantically for a therapy that would work.

"Once I got a headache, it never went away. Having a headache for that long changes your personality," Meredith said tearfully. "You don't want to talk to anyone. You don't want to do anything."

All that changed when Meredith, 18, had migraine surgery this past summer at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Now the headaches are gone, thanks to a procedure called nerve decompression surgery that has been gaining popularity as an alternative therapy for chronic headache sufferers.

Migraine surgery involves first identifying the compressed nerves through a clinical history and exam or use of Botox and nerve blocks. Then, the pressure causing the migraines is relieved by severing tiny muscles and other tissues pressing on and irritating these headache-trigger nerves.

Meredith's surgeon, Dr. Bardia Amirlak, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery, has successfully performed more than 100 such procedures over the past two years at UT Southwestern and refined the surgery with his own method of using an endoscope to target smaller blood vessels.

"This surgery is an option for patients with chronic headaches, nerve-compression headaches, occipital neuralgia, new daily persistent headaches, episodic migraines, and chronic migraines," said Dr. Amirlak. "However, before considering surgery, all patients should first be evaluated by a neurologist and try medical management."

According to Dr. Amirlak, who currently performs two to three migraine surgeries a week, about 60 percent of his patients get complete relief. Of the remaining 40 percent, nearly 90 percent of those experience at least a 50 percent reduction in pain, he said.

"Patients are coming from all over the country as well as from other countries," he said. "Not all migraine sufferers are candidates. We must be careful selecting candidates for this type of surgery."

Dr. Amirlak said patients who have tried several medications without success often are candidates for this surgery, including teenagers.

"I would rather operate on a young patient to prevent lifelong pain and suffering than to wait many years after their school, work, and social life has suffered. Here at UT Southwestern we are trying to establish standard protocols for migraine surgery in children," he added.

A year ago, the unrelenting, pounding pressure that radiated throughout Meredith's body during migraine episodes made it impossible to leave her darkened bedroom, let alone attend school. The headaches started her junior year of high school.

Meredith found no lasting relief despite consultations with more than a dozen different types of specialists who checked for viruses, infections, and allergies; trying nearly 50 different kinds of medications; undergoing numerous Botox injections and nerve blocks; and enduring several week-long hospital stays that involved administrations of D.H.E. 45, a last-resort medication prescribed for migraines.

"I never thought I'd get better; I thought I was doomed to be in bed my whole life," she said.

Dr. Amirlak operated on Meredith in June 2013 to relieve migraines concentrated at the front of her head.

"He spent an hour talking to us. He seemed really passionate about helping people, and we felt we had a bond with him," Meredith said.

Shelly Messerli, Meredith's mom, agreed.

"Dr. Amirlak is like family to us. He's our hero," she said. "It's a life-saver, this surgery."

Meredith said that now she cannot imagine what her life would have been like without the surgery. The experience prompted her to pursue a health care degree in hopes of a career as a microbial pathogenesis researcher. Now a freshman at Oklahoma State University, she has joined a sorority and plays intramural soccer. The headaches are no longer a dominating factor in her life.

"I wouldn't be in college right now if not for Dr. Amirlak," Meredith said. "I can do everything I used to do before. I'm excited to be myself again."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Surgery brings relief for chronic migraines for one patient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109091736.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2014, January 9). Surgery brings relief for chronic migraines for one patient. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109091736.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Surgery brings relief for chronic migraines for one patient." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109091736.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins