In 2006, Mary Jones woke with a headache unlike any she had experienced before.
It was the beginning of her struggle with migraines, which can drastically affect the lives of the 36 million Americans who suffer from them.
For years, Jones sought relief from doctors, therapies and medications, to no avail. Then the Seneca Falls woman came to Thompson Hospital for an intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block.
The image-guided procedure, which isn't performed anywhere else in the Rochester/Finger Lakes area, is minimally invasive, with no needles. Dr. Devang Butani, an interventional radiologist specializing in pain management at Thompson and Strong Memorial Hospital, explains that a thin catheter is inserted through the nasal passages to spray lidocaine on the ganglion nerve.
The administration of the lidocaine acts as a reset button for the brain’s migraine circuitry. When the initial numbing of the lidocaine wears off, the migraine trigger has less effect.
“Most patients are headache-free within a short period of time, ranging from 12 to 24 hours,” Butani says.
Jones says when she first received an SPG block about a year and a half ago, she was surprised how much better she felt when she came home. She then went a whole month without a migraine. For the first year, she received the treatment every four to five weeks; now it’s every two to three months.
“Life is good,” she says. “It’s back to normal.”