Non-invasive Migraine Treatment

Sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block

An innovative treatment is now available at Thompson that has been found to offer sustained relief to many of those who suffer from chronic migraines and cluster headaches.

An intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block is an image-guided procedure that is minimally invasive and involves no needles. It is performed by an interventional radiologist specializing in pain management.

During the procedure, a thin catheter is inserted through the nasal passages to administer lidocaine. The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and involves minimal risks. Those include minor bleeding if the nasal passages are dry.

Patients who receive an SPG block often feel some relief within a few hours, with relief improving over the course of the next few days.

Essentially, the lidocaine acts as a “reset button” for the brain’s migraine circuitry, so when the initial numbing of the lidocaine wears off, the migraine trigger has less effect than it did previously. The procedure can also benefit patients with facial distribution pain syndromes such as trigeminal neuralgia and persistent pain over the upper and lower jaws after root canals.

What are the risks of the procedure?

The risks and side effects are minimal. Allergy reaction to lidocaine can occur but is rare. Infection and nosebleed from nasal irritation are also very rare. You may experience a bitter taste from the medicine as well as a temporary numbness in the nose, mouth and throat. Blood pressure can decrease for a few minutes but is temporary and usually requires no treatment.

What is the success rate of the procedure?

There are many factors that affect migraine disease and each person and their response to treatment is different. Approximately 50-70% of patients see a response. Your individual situation can be discussed with the doctor at the time of the consultation.

No referral is needed for a minimally invasive SPG block. Most insurances cover the procedure however you should check with your insurance company regarding coverage.

How do I determine if I am a candidate for an SPG block?

To schedule a consult at UR Medicine‘s Thompson Health, call (585) 396-6701. 


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Devang Butani, MDDevang Butani, MD