Effect on Sleep of Posterior Hypothalamus Stimulation in Cluster Headache


  • Roberto Vetrugno MD, PhD,

  • Giulia Pierangeli MD,

  • Massimo Leone MD,

  • Gennaro Bussone MD,

  • Angelo Franzini MD,

  • Giovanni Brogli MD,

  • Roberto D'Angelo MD,

  • Pietro Cortelli MD,

  • Pasquale Montagna MD

  • From the Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy (Drs. Vetrugno, Pierangeli, D'Angelo, Cortelli, and Montagna); Neurological Department and Headache Centre, Istituto Nazionale Neurologico “C. Besta” Milan, Italy (Drs. Leone and Bussone); Department of Neurosurgery, Istituto Nazionale Neurologico “C Besta,” Milan, Italy (Drs. Franzini and Brogli).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Roberto Vetrugno, Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche dell'Università di Bologna, Via Ugo Foscolo 7, 40123 Bologna, Italy.


Objective.—To evaluate the structure and quality of sleep and the circadian rhythm of body core temperature (BcT°) in patients with drug-resistant chronic cluster headache (CH) before and during deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus.

Background.—Chronic CH is a severe primary headache and frequently associated with disturbances in sleep. Posterior hypothalamus DBS is performed as an effective treatment of drug-resistant chronic CH. The effects of posterior hypothalamus DBS on sleep and the circadian rhythm of BcT° are unknown.

Methods.—Three male patients with chronic drug-resistant CH underwent 48-hour consecutive polysomnography (PSG) by means of the VITAPORT® system with determination of BcT° by means of a rectal probe. Recordings were done before electrode implantation in the posterior hypothalamus and after optimized DBS of posterior hypothalamus.

Results.—Before electrode implantation PSG showed nocturnal CH attacks, reduced sleep efficiency, fragmented sleep and increased periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS). During DBS nocturnal CH attacks were abolished and sleep efficiency and PLMS improved. BcT° circadian rhythm was normal both before and during DBS.

Conclusions.—Our data show that DBS of posterior hypothalamus in drug-resistant chronic CH is effective in curtailing nocturnal CH attacks, and is associated with improved sleep structure and quality. Chronic CH displays a normal circadian rhythm of BcT°, unchanged during hypothalamic DBS.