BACKGROUND: Migraine is a debilitating neurologic condition, with a large socioeconomic impact. There is a subgroup of patients that does not adequately respond to pharmacologic management and may have underlying neuralgia. Surgical decompression of extracranial sensory nerves has been proposed as an alternative therapy. The aim of this article is to review the evidence for the surgical treatment of neuralgias. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted to study the efficacy of decompression of extracranial sensory nerves as a treatment for neuralgia. Clinical studies were included that studied patients, aged 18 years or older, diagnosed with any definition of headache and were treated with extracranial nerve decompression surgery. Outcome parameters included intensity (on a 10-point scale), duration (in days), and frequency (of headaches per month). RESULTS: Thirty-eight articles were found describing extracranial nerve decompression in patients with headaches. Postoperative decrease in headache intensity ranged from 2 to 8.2, reduction of duration ranged from 0.04 to 1.04 days, and reduction in frequency ranged between 4 and 14.8 headaches per month. Total elimination of symptoms was achieved in 8.3 to 83 percent of cases. A detailed summary of the outcome of single-site decompression is described. Statistical pooling and therefore meta-analysis was not possible, because of articles having the same surgeon and an overlapping patient database. CONCLUSIONS: Nerve decompression surgery is an effective way of treating headaches in a specific population of patients with neuralgia. Although a meta-analysis of the current data was not possible, the extracranial decompression of peripheral head and neck sensory nerves has a high success rate.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0000000000006270, hdl.handle.net/1765/121990
Journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Citation
Bink, T. (Thijs), Duraku, L.S, Ter Louw, R.P. (Ryan P.), Zuidam, J.M, Mathijssen, I.M.J. (Irene M J), & Driessen, C. (2019). The Cutting Edge of Headache Surgery: A Systematic Review on the Value of Extracranial Surgery in the Treatment of Chronic Headache. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 144(6), 1431–1448. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000006270