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What to Expect before Your Migraine Surgery

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Feb 4, 2015, 7:00:00 AM
It’s not easy to explain what it feels like to people who have never dealt with the debilitating pain of a migraine. Often in our society, a person is encouraged to “tough it out”, and the pain dismissed as an excuse. People that experience chronic migraines aren’t just dealing with the physical effects of the condition, but also the social and psychological fallout. Migraine sufferers often have to accept the devastating loss of consistency, or the ability to engage in work, recreational activities and day-to-day routines. It’s a challenging problem, but one that now has treatments that can help you reclaim your life.

What Is Migraine Surgery?

Although your excitement mounts at the thought of a solution, a question that comes to mind immediately is what exactly migraine surgery is. Surgery can seem like an intimidating process. However, there are chronic migraine surgeries that are minimally invasive. A couple state-of-the-art options for migraine patients are M.I.S.O.N. (Minimally Invasive Supra-Orbital nerve) and M.I.G.O.N.E. (Minimally Invasive Greater Occipital Nerve Entrapment), which are both outpatient procedures. The hope is to reduce the duration and frequency of chronic pain associated with migraine headaches. In M.I.S.O.N., the procedure reduces pressure on constricted nerves to provide long-term pain relief by targeting the complex network of nerves in the forehead area. M.I.G.O.N.E. focuses on the larger occipital nerve at the back of the head.

Are You a Candidate for Migraine Surgery?

A few things factor into whether a person makes a good candidate. The doctor takes into account their overall history, including things like how often they experience migraines, severity, what treatments they’ve undergone and whether they’ve worked or not. There are also some steps that are taken prior to the surgery.
  • Paperwork: You’ll fill out and gather paperwork. The more comprehensive your history, the more information the surgeons have to work with. They’ll ask you to fill out questionnaires, share any diaries you’ve kept on your condition and want access to any or all medical records you have. Dates, procedures, medications and summaries of previous care are all extremely helpful.
  • Images: It is likely that you’ll need to consent to images. This can include CT scans, MRIs or MRAs. If you have any previous available images, it is be beneficial to share those with the surgeon as well.
  • History: It is essential to have history. This is why paperwork and imaging are so important. The more thorough the patient history, the smoother the process will be. Gathering your history before making your first appointment will go a long way in assisting your timeline.
The decision will be based on whether the candidate’s benefits from the surgery are greater than the risk. It is an intricate process in which the doctor and patient will discuss everything in-depth to assure that everyone has the information necessary to make the right choice.

What to Expect before and the Day of Surgery

Before your surgery, your doctor might try other treatments first. This isn’t to take the place of your surgery, but rather to see your response. Often, if you have a positive response to the treatments, you will to the surgery as well.

The risks for the surgery are minimal, but it is still worthwhile, especially if traveling out-of-state for the surgery, to get permission from your primary physician. The further in advance you do this, the less likely there will be a delay of any kind.

You may be asked to avoid specific medications if they are blood-thinners. Everything else your surgeon will guide you through. You’ll know what medications you can or can’t take, or when you need to stop taking them.

Finally, you’ll sign a consent form. The form will thoroughly outline the risks associated with the surgery and potential post-op issues or complications. The day of your surgery you will be provided with everything needed for a successful procedure. Surgery time varies depending on the number of nerves that will be decompressed—but it usually runs 1 to 4 hours. It is an outpatient procedure, meaning you will go home the same day.

Why Consider Migraine Surgery?

If you feel that you’ve exhausted every avenue, or can no longer live with the debilitating effects of migraines, then migraine surgery may provide you with the solution you seek. One additional consideration is the other benefits that you’ll have. Think in terms of saving on the cost of medication and regaining the ability to pursue your friendships and hobbies. Migraine surgery is not about just living pain-free, but reclaiming your life.

patient guide to surgery

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Topics: Treatment

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