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Study Treats Migraine Headaches with Sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty was shown to be effective in treating headaches—even migraines—in a pilot study that will be reviewed today during “Can Balloon Sinuplasty Eliminate Headaches in Sinusitis Sufferers?”

“How many people with sinus headaches are taking extensive prescription narcotic medications or over-the-counter medications for headaches you could fix in the office with a 15-minute procedure? The numbers, I believe, are going to be staggering,” said Vincent F. Honrubia, MD, lead author of the study. It will be presented from 1:30 pm-1:35 pm today in Room C141 of the convention center during the Scientific Oral Presentations.

The study looked at 25 patients complaining of migraine headaches to determine if they might instead have sinus headaches, said Dr. Honrubia, Director of the South Texas Sinus Institute, McAllen, TX. All patients received a physical examination, and doctors also looked at each patient’s nose, head CT scans, and medical history to determine if sinus problems were a likely cause of headaches.

“A lot of patients come in thinking their headaches are not of sinus origin. They think it is a migraine, a cluster, or tension,” he said. “They either have a) primarily sinus headaches that they believe are migraines because they have been misdiagnosed by their primary care doctors; or b) they have sinus headaches that may be a trigger for their migraines.

“It may be that the population of people who have these headaches may have both sinus and migraine as well. If you can fix the sinus, you have then eliminated one of the major triggers that causes their migraines.”

Patients were treated using the Honrubia Technique™. It involves disassembling a balloon sinuplasty system and using it in a non-traditional manner. This allows a technician to help the surgeon control the device so the procedure can be completed more quickly, Dr. Honrubia said.

“We also use anesthesia so you have the patient asleep, which allows you to do a more complete, accurate procedure compared to doing the procedure with the patient awake,” he said. “The patients are down for no more than 20 minutes.

“We found in our limited pilot study that the vast majority of patients treated with the balloon sinuplasty in the office using the Honrubia Technique have complete resolution and no usage of migraine medications after the procedure. This may start a conversation about the etiology of these headaches.

“I think that a long-term, bigger study should be done.”