Hypothalamic deep brain stimulation for intractable chronic cluster headache: a 3-year follow-up
Cluster headache is the most severe among primary headaches. Positron emission tomography and functional MRI studies have demonstrated that the ipsilateral posterior hypothalamus is activated during cluster headache attacks and is structurally asymmetric in these patients thus indicating that cluster headache may originate at that level. These hypothalamic abnormalities in cluster headache led to the suggestion that deep brain stimulation of ipsilateral posterior inferior hypothalamus might produce clinical improvement in otherwise treatment refractory chronic cluster headache patients. In a patient with severe intractable chronic cluster headache, hypothalamic electrical stimulation produced complete and long-term pain relief with no relevant side effects. So far other operations have been performed and the results are encouraging in terms of both pain relief and safety. The efficacy of hypothalamic electrical stimulation provides some hints into cluster headache pathophysiology.