Occipital Nerve Stimulation: Technical and Surgical Aspects of Implantation

Authors

  • Terrence L. Trentman MD,

    1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA (T.L. Trentman); Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA (R.S. Zimmerman).
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  • Richard S. Zimmerman MD

    1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA (T.L. Trentman); Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA (R.S. Zimmerman).
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  • Conflict of Interest: None

Terrence L. Trentman, Department of Anesthesiology, 13400 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA.

Abstract

The objective of this article is to review the surgical aspects of occipital stimulation. Since 1999 there has been a growing interest in neuromodulation of the distal branches of C2-3 in an effort to treat refractory headache disorders. This is accomplished via implantation of subcutaneous electrodes to stimulate peripheral nerves in the occipital region. “Occipital nerve stimulation” is a term generically used to describe the technique. Mechanisms and outcome of this modality are beyond the scope of this review, which will focus on the technical aspects of the procedure with its associated complications such as lead migration, localized pain, and infection. The history of peripheral nerve and spinal cord stimulation as pain treatment modalities will be briefly reviewed. The equipment and surgical technique for both trial and permanent implantation of occipital nerve stimulators will be described, in addition to patient selection considerations. The available literature will be summarized and a discussion of future directions will be provided. Occipital nerve stimulation may be an effective minimally invasive treatment modality for refractory headache disorders; clearly, further studies are needed.

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