Transcutaneous Supraorbital Nerve Stimulation (t-SNS) with the Cefaly ® Device for Migraine Prevention: A Review of the Available Data

Pain Ther. 2015 Oct 14;4(2):135-147. doi: 10.1007/s40122-015-0039-5. Online ahead of print.


So far, among the different non-invasive neurostimulation methods, only transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation (t-SNS) with the Cefaly® (Cefaly Technology sprl, Herstal, Belgium) device has randomized controlled trial-based evidence for safety and efficacy and obtained American Food and Drug Administration approval for the prevention of episodic migraine. In a double-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled trial on 67 episodic migraine patients (mean pre-treatment migraine days/month: 6.9), the 50% responder rate after 3 months was significantly higher in the active group (38.2%) than in the sham group (12.1%); attack frequency and total headache days were also significantly reduced, but not headache severity. Acute anti-migraine drug intake was reduced by 36.7% in the active group. Statistical sub-analysis suggested that t-SNS was more effective in patients with a higher attack frequency. In a large survey on 2313 Cefaly users about safety and satisfaction only 4.3% of subjects reported side effects, all of which were minor and fully reversible, the most frequent being intolerance to the paresthesia feeling and the most severe an allergic skin reaction to the electrode gel. The efficacy/safety ratio of the Cefaly device was therefore most favorable, especially when compared to preventive anti-migraine drugs. The therapeutic efficacy of t-SNS with Cefaly with low-frequency migraine (≤5 attacks/month) was recently confirmed in an open randomized trial. No published data are available in chronic migraine. According to preliminary results of a fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography study, Cefaly might exert its effect in migraine by increasing activity in crucial areas of the limbic system and salience matrix such as orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices.

Keywords: Cefaly®; External trigeminal nerve stimulation (e-TNS); Headache; Migraine; Migraine prophylaxis; Neuromodulation; Neurostimulation; Preventive therapy; Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation (t-SNS); Trigeminal nerve.